Australia news LIVE: Suspected visa scams choking immigration system; Labor to replace building watchdog

Key posts

  • Construction watchdog to be replaced in IR bill concession
  • ‘Industrial scale’ visa scams creating underclass of workers open to exploitation
  • This morning’s headlines at a glance
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Construction watchdog to be replaced in IR bill concession

A new body will oversee the culture of the construction industry in a fresh government concession to its controversial industrial relations bill as it races to woo crucial crossbenchers and pass the reforms this year.

Independent MP Allegra Spender on Monday stepped up her criticism of the 249-page Secure Jobs, Better Pay bill by accusing the government of wanting to introduce “the most far-reaching industrial relations reform since John Howard’s Work Choices”, joining other lower house crossbenchers in siding with opposition calls for a new probe into the bill.

Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

The government voted down the new inquiry, with Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke saying it would prevent the bill going to the Senate when it returned later this month, “and to be able to do that, that means it’s got to go through the house this week”.

The bill has drawn criticism from business groups, the federal opposition and members of the crossbench over its provisions on multi-employer agreements, which would allow the majority of workers across several businesses to force their employers to the negotiating table together.

The government has the numbers to pass the bill in the lower house and has the tentative support of the Greens in the Senate but needs one more senator to secure the passage of the bill.

More on this issue here.

‘Industrial scale’ visa scams creating underclass of workers open to exploitation

Suspected visa scams have brought up to 100,000 workers into Australia using false claims that have choked the system, fuelling fears about illicit labour as the government launches a sweeping review of the migration regime.

The schemes have left Australia with a growing underclass of workers who are waiting on a legal system that takes 812 days on average to decide each case, according to a new warning about labour trafficking.

Former Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson. Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

The federal government has cleared the way for an overhaul of the visa rules by naming former Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson to review the system, but a second inquiry is being prepared to investigate the migration scams.

Parkinson said it was “indisputable” the migration system was not working.

“I think it’s incredibly complex and it’s very hard for potential migrants to navigate, it’s very hard for employers to navigate and it leaves open the risk that, in some cases, migrants are exposed to exploitation,” he said.

Read the full story here.

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning and thanks for your company.

It’s Tuesday, November 8. I’m Broede Carmody and I’ll be anchoring our live coverage for the first half of the day.

Here’s what you need to know before we get started.

  • Up to 100,000 workers have been brought into Australia using suspected visa scams, according to David Crowe. It comes as the Albanese government announces a review of the immigration system.
  • The building industry watchdog will be replaced by another body. It’s Labor’s latest concession ahead of a vote on its signature workplace reforms. Angus Thompson has the full story.
  • In state news, the Victorian opposition has suggested it’ll expand the threshold to allow public anti-corruption hearings. Meanwhile, the NSW premier’s signature housing policy has hit a roadblock.
  • And in international news, Ukraine says Russian troops have pillaged and occupied homes in the port city of Kherson. In the United States, Democrats and Republicans are gearing up for the midterm elections.
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