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Senate Enquiry Extends Reporting Period

A Senate enquiry into Australian’s temporary work visa programs has extended its reporting period after allegations of widespread non-compliance by several Australian companies has recently come to light.

On 24 March 2015 the Senate referred the inquiry, entitled “The impact of Australia’s temporary work visa programs on the Australian labour market and on the temporary work visa holders”, to the Education and Employment References Committee with submissions due by 1 May 2015. The reporting date for the enquiry has recently been extended to 14 October 2015 after a joint Fairfax Media and Four Corners investigation uncovered widespread exploitation of student visa holders by convenience store chain 7-Eleven. The investigation exposed the franchise-wide practice of having student visa holders work 40 hours a week, but only be paid for 20 hours of work to maintain their appearance of compliance with the conditions of their student visas. Under current visa regulations, holders of Australian student visas are prohibited from working more than 20 hours a week. The Australian government has stated that they are “actively considering” granting an amnesty to workers who may have violated the conditions of their student visa in the course of their work with 7-Eleven to ensure the matter is fully investigated.

In addition to the allegations against 7-Elvelen, the CEO of Australia Post, Ahmed Fahour, is also due to appear before the enquiry after allegations emerged that delivery contractors used by Australia Post were illegally using foreign student labour.

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