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The professional association representing migration agents, the Migration Institute of Australia, is concerned about allegations raised on tonight’s Four Corners program on migration and education scams.

“Unfortunately, hearing reports about international students and visa applicants falling prey to unscrupulous operators is not a new issue”, says Maurene Horder, CEO of the Migration Institute of Australia.

In May 2008, the MIA reported 60 rogue agents from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and is unaware if any of these were prosecuted.

Any unethical or illegal behaviour by registered migration agents is not tolerated by the Institute and should be cracked down on by the Department.

“We’ve been asking government to sort out problems with education agents and illegal or unscrupulous operators for an extended period of time. The announcement that education agents will have a register is a first step but doesn’t go far enough in reforming the sector,” says Ms Horder.

A recent independent report, entitled Changing Together, confirms the nature of some of the problems which affects the profession – that the bad behaviour of a minority of unscrupulous operators’ impacts negatively on the entire migration advice profession.

“Following the report’s release, the MIA is acting on a comprehensive range of reforms to strengthen standards and ethics of migration agents.” says Ms Horder. These include:

• Comprehensive reform to the education and training of agents
• Requiring current Registered Migration Agents to requalify to a higher standard of English language and professional competence
• Introduce a tiered system of registration to protect consumers
• Formation of an independent complaints body with the power to review fees

Responsibility for change should be shared by education providers, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

“I wait with interest to see tonight’s Four Corners episode and hope that it will provide an added impetus for the key stakeholders to come together and develop appropriate policies to meet Australia’s educational and immigration interests without anyone being exploited.”

  • Source  :  www.mia.org.au
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    The Australian Tax Office has issued a warning to self-managed super funds (SMSFs) about people offering to set up agreements between funds and related parties to purchase assets, particularly properties.

    Tax Commissioner Michael D’Ascenzo says he’s concerned some of the arrangements on offer breach the in-house asset rules.

    “These arrangements use a paid third party to set up an agreement, sometimes referred to as ‘a joint venture agreement’, between the fund and a related trust to purchase an asset that provides income for the trust and the fund,” D’Ascenzo says.

    “This is clearly an attempt to circumvent the in-house asset rules as the transaction is really an investment by the SMSF in the related trust.”

    “This alert serves as a timely reminder to trustees that we’re looking closely at SMSFs to ensure they’re meeting their obligations in relation to loans, in-house assets, borrowings and non-arm’s length transactions.”

    The Taxpayer Alert (2009/16) on this issue is available from the Tax Office website at www.ato.gov.au/atp.

    Source  :  www.apimagazine.com.au

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    • GreatWhiteA great white shark has been sighted circling a whale carcass near a popular Perth beach. 

    Floating about six nautical miles west of Scarborough Beach, the carcass is believed to have attracted the shark, which was spotted on Sunday.

    WA Department of Fisheries spokesman Tony Cappelluti said he was concerned the dead whale would float closer to the shoreline.

    “While the carcass is a long way off any Perth beaches, it is important that boat users or divers are aware of the potential increased shark activity near the carcass,” Mr Cappelluti said.

    “There has also been another shark sighting this morning at Strickland Bay on Rottnest Island, where warning signs were erected several days ago after sightings made during the week.”

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