Foreign doctors, film industry professionals, seasonal workers, researchers and employees of foreign government agencies will also have their records scrutinised.
The operation coincides with a Gillard government crackdown on the 457 visa sub-class, which it claims is being rorted by employers to deny Australians jobs.
The exercise will analyse records from three financial years, 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-14, with preliminary results expected to be available ahead of the September 14 election.
The operation will red flag individuals and employers who are cheating tax and immigration laws.
The agency hopes to identify “new or widespread fraud” and address “identified risks posed by temporary working visa holders and employer sponsors”.
According to the ATO, the names, addresses and other details of visa holders “will be electronically matched and analysed with certain sections of ATO data holdings to identify potential fraud, and other non-compliance with lodgement and payment obligations under taxation law”.
“The ATO may also provide information to assist the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to maintain the integrity of the student and temporary working visa programs.”
Labor argues, with strong backing from the union movement, that temporary 457 visas are being abused by employers to avoid training Australians.
But it has struggled to come up with hard evidence of widespread rorting of the system, sparking claims it is demonising foreign workers for electoral gain.
Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor said the data-matching exercise would help protect Australian jobs.
“While this is not a specific crackdown, it is another example of the government working to ensure the integrity of the immigration program and to ensure that locals are not missing out on work opportunities to visitors who do not have the correct work rights,” he said.
Mr O’Connor has previously highlighted a spike in 457 visa approvals, at a time of rising unemployment, as evidence that the system must be overhauled.
He says the fact that the biggest growth in 457 visas has been in Tasmania, South Australia and NSW, rather than the big mining states, is also evidence that the program is not working in the interests of Australian workers.
Tony Abbott has defended the system, accusing the government of attacking the system it has presided over for more than five years to divert attention from its border protection failures.Source: The Australian – Foreign workers in fraud crackdown
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