Life on the land in Australia

Immigration raid Citrus farm finding worker visa issues for pickers

oranges growing on tree image www.ozrural.com.au

Passports of citrus pickers will now be checked weekly at a southern New South Wales farm, where immigration raids were carried out earlier this month.

The raids discovered 37 workers, who were hired by a contractor, had invalid visas.

Hillston property owner Ken McDougall says he’s no longer using a contractor and will have to employ someone to perform the routine background checks on employees

“It virtually means that every morning before people start work, they’re going to have to be checked out on the (immigration) website.

“We’re probably going to have to put on another staff member to actually do that.

“I am concerned about the viability of the particular farms or these orchards because it’s probably going to impose another 20 per cent on top of our picking costs.”


Mr McDougall says he wasn’t aware of the Immigration Department’s Visa Entitlement Verification website prior to the discovery of illegal workers on his farm.

“Pickers, they come and go and because we were using a contractor, his task was to supply us with people to pick the required amount of bins in a day.

“If pickers left, he just replaced them.”

Mr McDougall, who is chair of the Riverina Citrus Advisory Committee, expects he’ll lose three weeks of production because he can’t find enough trained pickers for the upcoming Valencia harvest and he could potentially face hefty fines for the discovery of illegal workers on his farm.

Henry Sapiecha

October 26th, 2014

≡ Leave a Reply