It was 4pm on a Friday late last month. Alex (we will call him that) sat in his car at the gate of a property north of Yarra Glen on the outskirts of Melbourne.
It was drizzling in rain and he was waiting for a Tamil businessman he knew as Tirku who had insisted he meet a Hindu High Priest from Sri Lanka… Alex had no idea why.
A silver Prado pulled up and Alex followed it up a dirt path to a modest weatherboard house.
Tirku assisted a small tubby bloke in orange robes from the car. Alex went to greet him but the “priest” ignored him and his outstretched hand.
Another man who appeared to be Indian alighted from the car and was introduced to Alex as a builder.
Tirku owned many Melbourne rural properties and he was keen to show them around the 10 hectare Yarra Glen property.
Alex was confused because Tirku was not a close friend. They had briefly exchanged phone numbers at a council function where he had shown some interest in Alex’s Croyden assembly plant.
It was an eerie one hour visit to the property as they appeared to speak Hindi while completely ignoring Alex.
The following morning Tirku phoned Alex. “That Hindu priest is the equivalent of a Tamil pope you know, mate.” Alex still expressed total confusion so, after Tirku was assured of Alex’s confidentiality, he proceeded to explain.
It was after Tirku had explained to Alex why he was needed that Alex decided to contact The Pickering Post… “You won’t believe this”, he said to me.
I was told by Alex that apparently only a fraction of Tamils arriving here illegally are sent home. The rest are given bridging visas and let loose in the community and ordered not to work while they are being processed.
As I reported in a previous article it would take about a week for these blokes to find jobs and on this occasion Alex’s assembly plant was Tirku’s target.
Tirku was the go-to man. He was well-known in Sri Lanka and fleeced only 20% from each wage.
Alex was told he would only have to pay them half the basic wage and Tirku would arrange to transport them to and from work.
He was told not to worry about the low wage because all bridging visa immigrants are entitled to an array of benefits including 89% of the unemployment benefit through ASAS (the Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme) the Red Cross and SAS (Community Assistance Support).
Tirku had said that hundreds were already employed in landscaping, cleaning and gardening and that he had accommodation for them in Port Melbourne, Glen Waverley and Blackburn.
Others had been settled in the south eastern suburbs and Mill Park in the north.
“I thought I'd test him out”, Alex told me. “I told him I had connections with a company that provides cleaning services to a string of shopping centres in Victoria.
“He was excited at the suggestion and said if we could get together for a chat, he would pay me a brokerage fee.”
Alex continued relaying his story to me but by now he was angry, “Why should these kingpin guys be making a killing fucking with our immigration system”, he said.
“The whole damn thing is so well organised and the government is falling for it at the expense of the Aussie workers they say they are protecting!
“There’s no way one of these blokes will be working for me. You have to let people know about this, Larry, Gillard and Abbott haven’t got a fucking clue what’s going on.”
Perhaps Labor luminaries rue the day they dismantled our border protection policy… or do they even care?