UK-style Home Affairs department signals big change for corporates hiring international workers

21 December 2017

Following yesterday’s formal establishment of the Home Affairs Portfolio, including the Department of Home Affairs, global professional services firm BDO’s head of migration services Maria Jockel, said both businesses and individuals can expect to see huge changes, as they are now effectively dealing with a national security agency. “We’re seeing a whole of government approach to Australia’s immigration laws, which are already the most complex in the world.”

The new, UK-like, Department of Home Affairs portfolio, is a central policy agency, providing coordinated strategy and policy leadership for Australia's national and transport security, federal law enforcement, criminal justice, cyber security, border, immigration, multicultural affairs, emergency management and trade related functions. These changes reflect the ongoing commitment by the Australian government to protect and manage Australian borders, at a time of heightened safety concerns.

“While the government will continue its targeted migration program which is committed to nation building, with a particular focus on highly skilled temporary and permanent overseas workers, these changes herald a new epoch in the way individuals and travelers enter and depart Australia. The focus on national security, law enforcement and the analysis and exchange of digitally obtained data, is part of a whole of government approach in an increasingly restrictive immigration landscape.”

“These changes also herald the need for corporate Australia to focus on regulatory compliance and due diligence. No doubt more organisations will need to seek specialist immigration advice to ensure their international workforce and brand is protected in this ever-changing backdrop.”

The implications of these changes have yet to be fully understood, including the dual role of Minister Dutton as both the Minister of Home Affairs and the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, as well as the new Minister for Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity, and Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs.