The much-touted system has been praised by those on Brexit's Leave side as a possible solution for UK immigration
In the months leading up to the UK’s Brexit referendum, the now victorious Leave side repeatedly pointed to Australia’s points-based immigration system as the model the UK should now adopt given that it will soon close its borders to EU migrants. But now reports are emerging from Australia of widespread corruption in the country’s skilled and student visa programme.
Speaking on the Australian national broadcaster’s 7.30 news programme on ABC on Monday evening, an Immigration Department chief revealed that the Australian government’s obsession with keeping out immigrants arriving on boats has left the country blind to widespread exploitation and fraud carried out within the system.
“In the border security debate, it has been easy to deflect the public’s attention to boat arrivals,” said Joseph Petyanszki, a veteran of the Department of Immigration with almost 30 years experience. “But this fear-mongering has totally ignored where the vast bulk of real fraud is, most significantly undermining out immigration programmes.”
Mr Petyanszki claims that the Australian system, which ascribes point values to applying immigrants based on their documented skill levels in a wide range of careers, has been infiltrated by tens of thousands cases of visa fraud, which has resulted in the awarding of visas to thousands of applicants across the country. Inquiries carried out by the Immigration Department uncovered that thousands of skilled migrant applicants had lodged falsified qualifications, including counterfeit degrees and diplomas from some of Australia’s most prestigious universities.
“One investigation identified up to 4,000 applicants who used such documents to apply for skilled migration,” Mr Petyanszki said, adding that the country’s immigration system, regarded internationally as one of the most stringent in the world, is “beset with loopholes that can be exploited by unscrupulous migration agents.”
In the wake of the report, the Australian branch of the Green Party has said it will move for a parliamentary inquiry into the business and skilled visa streams after the country’s general election, which takes place this Saturday.
"Militarising the Immigration Department and focussing intently on 'Operation Secret Boats' was always going to undermine the agency's efficacy,” said Sarah Hanson-Young, a Green Party senator for South Australia and immigration spokesperson.
"Perhaps if Border Force spent more time weeding out corruption in its own ranks and less time threatening whistleblowers who speak out about offshore detention, we wouldn't be in this mess.”