Christine Nixon to lead sex, drug trafficking inquiry
O’Neil said following the series, border security officials have already “cancelled visas, turned people away at the border, revoked licenses of migration agents, and more”. But the minister said Nixon’s appointment was about “looking at the root cause”.
“Christine Nixon will help us understand how this happened. She is as tough as nails, nothing gets past her. She is the ideal person to work with me to address the conditions that have allowed these problems to persist for so long,” said O’Neil.
Christine Nixon is a former Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police. Credit: Michael Clayton-Jones
The Australian Border Force-led Operation Inglenook, which was launched after Trafficked, also canceled the government’s migration agent license of political donor Jack Ta, a visa specialist with migration offices across the country, who Trafficked revealed more than ‘ a dozen drugs helped. offenders to remain in Australia over several years.
Ta also boasted of “cozy” dinners with coalition ministers and donated more than $25,000 to the campaign fund of former Liberal Assistant Home Secretary Jason Wood.
Wood was the chairman of parliament’s migration committee when the donations took place and he invited Ta to dine with opposition leader Peter Dutton on at least two occasions when he was home secretary. There is no suggestion that Wood or Dutton were aware that Ta’s firm was being used by drug offenders to stay in Australia or was systematically corrupting the migration system.
The mast chief also confirmed that Ta attended the launch for O’Neil’s election campaign when she was a shadow minister and bought items at an auction worth $5200. The funds were donated to a charity after Ta’s actions were exposed.
Liberal MP Jason Wood, immigration agent Jack Ta and then Home Secretary Peter Dutton.
Earlier this month, the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority found Ta had acted “with a blatant disregard for … the migration law and the visa programs generally” and had “made misleading, deceptive or inaccurate statements and otherwise acted dishonestly”. .
OMARA also stated that Ta is “not a person of integrity and not a fit and proper person to provide immigration assistance”.
The failure of the Interior Department to act after years of allegations about Ta’s misconduct will almost certainly be investigated by Nixon. Trafficked revealed how state and federal agencies spent years issuing confidential warnings of migration problems where syndicates were gaming the visa system to bring criminals or exploited workers into Australia.
Operation Inglenook also continues to search for human trafficking boss Binjun Xie, who entered Australia despite being jailed for serious criminal activity in the UK and established a nationwide underground sex racket. Police intelligence linked Xie’s syndicate to the exploitation of vulnerable female workers, money laundering and visa fraud.
After Trafficked disclosed his activities and criminal past in October, O’Neil moved urgently to cancel his visa and issued a deportation order. But Border Force officials were unable to locate Xie in Sydney.
“While Peter Dutton was talking tough about our borders, a convicted felon walked into our country and set up a human trafficking ring right under his nose,” O’Neil said.
In a statement, the ABF said Operation Inglenook had profiled more than 175 persons of interest “to determine complicity in the exploitation of the temporary visa program and some 92 foreign nationals are currently of interest to the operation”.
“Action has taken place against known facilitators, including six associates who refused immigration clearance, three foreign visa cancellations preventing return travel to Australia, as well as other activities that cannot be disclosed for ongoing operational purposes,” the ABF said in a statement.
“It is clear that there is continued exploitation of foreign sex workers and that the exploitation of visa holders is supported by migration agents, some of whom directly receive a financial benefit, including through overcharging.”
O’Neil blamed the abuse of the migration system on the failures of the previous government.
“The abuses highlighted by [the Trafficked series] … were grotesque, some of the worst crimes imaginable. These cases of worker exploitation, human trafficking and organized crime have all resulted from Peter Dutton’s failure to protect our borders.”
Dutton rejected suggestions he had failed to protect the migration system when he was the responsible minister, but said he would support “any further measures to combat visa fraud”.
Nixon’s investigation will complement a second review aimed at overhauling visa rules, which is being led by former Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson. Parkinson said it was “indisputable” that the migration system was not working.
Got a tip for our investigative team? Contact Nick McKenzie at [email protected]
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