Taiwanese home after found working illegally in Australia

A Taiwanese national has returned home after being snatched up in a police raid on an Australian strawberry farm, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday.
PHOTO: Lai Yiying

A Taiwanese national has returned home after being snatched up in a police raid on an Australian strawberry farm, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday.

Australian border force officers swarmed the farm west of Brisbane on Wednesday on suspicions that the farm owner was illegally employing foreigners, ministry spokeswoman Eleanor Wang said.

Among the 185 part-time employees found on the premises, 66 held R.O.C. citizenship, of whom all but one were found to have valid working holiday visas, Wang said, citing information obtained from Australian authorities.

Ninety-two others foreign nationals were also found to be working legally.

The remaining 27, however, were found to be violating visa restrictions as they were in the country on tourism visas that prohibited them from working.

All but six of these workers had already or were to soon be deported back to their home countries, Wang said.

The Taiwanese national, aged in his 20s, was also found working on the farm while holding a tourism visa.

However, Wang said, police chose to release the man, who caught a flight back to Taiwan voluntarily the same day.

He may be barred from entering Australia in the future, Wang noted.

She added that Australian police had informed the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Brisbane that the raid was not meant to target Taiwanese; rather, she said, it was part of a concerted crackdown on businesses illegally hiring foreign workers.

The MOFA official again called on nationals to follow local laws when travelling or working overseas and not to engage in activities for purposes other than those covered under the visa they are granted.

Australia is the most popular destination for Taiwan's working holidaygoers, with 30,000 Taiwanese youths visiting the country annually.

The ministry has long urged Taiwanese jobseekers in Australia to solicit help from legitimate employment agencies and to examine work contracts thoroughly before signing them.

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