Early-morning raids target illegal labour in five states

ILLEGAL workers in five states and two labour hire contractors were arrested after a series of visa-related raids on farms and businesses this morning.

The early-morning sting was part of Operation Cloudburst, targeting exploitation of illegal workers, and resulted in 38 illegal workers being detained.

Of those, two were working as illegitimate labour hire contractors, six were working in breach of their visa conditions and 32 were "unlawful non-citizens".

Some 120 Immigration Department officers were involved in the 11 raids on businesses, farms and homes across every state.

Officers caught 22 illegal workers on a farm at Gatton in Queensland during checks.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the raids showed the government would not put up with "unscrupulous employers and exploitation of workers", despite most businesses doing "the right thing".

The raids also collected new evidence to support continued investigations as part of Operation Cloudburst that Assistant Immigration Minister Michaelia Cash said could lead to "possible prosecution".

"The results of this operation show we're targeting and disrupting entities which seek to commit visa fraud and exploit foreign workers here in Australia," she said.

The raids follow a succession of reports of illegal worker activity on farms across regional Australia amid fears supermarket price pressures on farmers' bottom lines were leading some to use questionable labour hire firms.

Seven suspected illegal workers were detained in New South Wales, four in Western Australia and five in Victoria.

In South Australia, 80 people were checked but not detained.

Senator Cash said those caught exploiting vulnerable workers would face the full force of the law.

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