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A SPECIALIST integrity unit has been formed inside the Department of Immigration to deal with widespread fraud in the working holiday visa program, on which industries such as fruit growing depend.

More than 200 internet advertisements have been found offering to buy or sell documents allowing backpackers to claim they had worked in rural jobs without them leaving Sydney, and thus extend their working holiday visas. The standard fee is $400. So far, 64 visas have been cancelled over the fraud and at least 19 more are being reviewed.

One man, an Irish national, has been convicted of fraud. ”There’s been more than 100 fraudulent claims identified this financial year,” a spokeswoman for the department said. ”The answer is we don’t know [the full extent of the fraud]. At this stage it’s too early to determine and we will be looking at it over the next six months.”

The working holiday visa (subclass 417) allows people to extend their stay in Australia by a year if they can prove they have worked in a rural area for three months. Applications are lodged online but have been abused by people selling Australian business numbers linked to farms so backpackers can falsely claim they worked on farms.

”Second year visas for sale,” one ad read. ”Will email completed 1263 form and add your details to my books so you can gain second year visa with ease.”

Another ad offering similar services, posted on the Gumtree website on Saturday, had received more than 2000 hits by last night. Unlike visa scams targeting international students, mainly Indians, this fraud is used mainly by European visitors.

One backpacker told the Herald he had been offered the false documentation as soon as be arrived in Australia, by people staying at the same hostel.

”People told me about buying the documents – getting the numbers to put in,” he said. ”When I arrived here people said you can go there [to a farm] or you can buy. Everyone knows about it. It’s easy. All the people who are here know about that.”

The federal Opposition spokeswoman on immigration, Sharman Stone, said the widespread fraud reflected under-resourcing of the department.

Source  :  www.smh.com.au
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Swan Valley winemakers have vowed to boycott the coming Spring in the Valley festival, saying the two-day event has become too unruly and overcrowded.

Little River Winery and John Kosovich Wines said they would have nothing to do with the popular festival when it was staged on October 10 and 11 because it was a “debauch”. Other wineries said they would hold their own separate events to coincide with its running.

It comes as the Swan Valley Tourism Council, which organises the event, confirmed it would introduce a $5 entry fee for the first time in the festival’s history. The fee will apply to all people attending the event, with 40 per cent of proceeds to go to Ticketmaster and the rest to the council. With as many as 70,000 people expected to attend, the fee could net the council $200,000. Swan Valley Tourism Council executive officer Geraldine Riggir said patrons would need to show their tickets at all participating venues.

The cost of the ticket will not entitle patrons to entry into all venues, with many set to charge their own admission prices. Ms Riggir said the council’s $5 fee would help cover the cost of staging the event, while it would also allow organisers to better manage crowds. She defended the festival in the face of criticism from some Swan Valley businesses, arguing it was the best way of showcasing local products to a broad market.

“It’s not a terrible festival, it’s a fantastic festival,” she said. “It’s just a small element of it that is a problem. All the valley is trying to do is showcase the region and what it has to offer.”

Upper Reach Winery owner Laura Pearse said she would sell a limited number of tickets privately to ensure crowd numbers were kept under control. She backed the festival as a going concern, saying it was predominantly a “lovely day out”. But Little River Winery owner Jan de Tastes said she would close her winery in protest because she no longer felt the festival represented the best interests of producers in the valley.

“If it was a quality festival you could be proud of it but at the moment you’ve got the drunkenness taking over to such as degree that the whole thing is a debauch,” she said.

Mrs de Tastes threatened to sue the council and event sponsors if anything happened to her winery during the event.

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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The Tax Office today reminded Australia’s 11.8 million taxpayers to start getting ready to lodge their tax returns.                                                                                                

Tax Commissioner Michael D’Ascenzo said the Tax Office has a range of information and assistance available to help people meet the 31 October 2009 deadline.

“From 1 July, people can prepare and lodge their return online using e-tax, which is free, secure and easy to use software which in most cases processes your return within 14 days.

“As well as calculators, help screens and links to rulings, you can also download information from third parties directly into your tax return, including payment summaries, government payments such as pensions and allowances, bank interest and private health insurance details.

E-tax can be accessed free of charge 24 hours a day, seven days a week from our website at www.ato.gov.au,” Mr D’Ascenzo said.

Government and third party information will be available to download progressively from 1 July. You can subscribe to an alert service within e-tax which will let you know when the information becomes available.                                                                                                                                                                                         ato

People can still lodge using TaxPack 2009 or the short tax return for individuals 2009.

TaxPack 2009 is available from most newsagents, Tax Office shopfronts or the Tax Office website from 1 July.

If you used the short tax return last year you’ll receive a copy in the mail shortly.

Mr D’Ascenzo also reminded people to contact their tax agent as soon as possible.

“If you’re using a tax agent for the first time or using a different one from last year you need to contact them by 31 October 2009,” he said.

“Only registered tax agents can charge a fee to prepare and lodge a tax return.

“However some people present themselves as tax agents when they are not.

“Registered tax agents are regulated by the Tax Agents’ Board and have the qualifications and experience to handle your tax affairs.”

Visit the Tax Agents’ Board website http://www.tabd.gov.au or call 1300 362 829 to check if your agent is registered.

Compliance focus

We cross-check tax returns against a wide range of data including financial institution data, state and territory revenue and property sales information and Australian stock exchange data.

Help and assistance

If people have questions or need assistance they should visit the Tax Office website www.ato.gov.au or phone the Tax Office on 13 28 61 between 8.00am and 6.00pm weekdays.

The Tax Office can provide you a more personalised service if you provide your tax file number when you call.

source  :  www.ato.gov.au

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Relocating from the UK and now living in Perth I sometimes forget how lucky I am to be here with two young children, the great outdoorperth-children life with the room to roam the parks and gardens of  WA, most with no entry fee. 

Living the outdoor life in Perth City we are lucky enough to have the recreational facilities on our doorstep. 

Kings Park is definately for me the daddy of all parks with the fantastic location and views which managed to bring a tear to my eye the first time I ever went.

There are other free entry parks to enjoy such as Whiteman Park where families can enjoy a day out with cycle paths, walking trails, bbq’s, paddling pool and childrens play areas.  There is a wildlife park there which does charge for entry, you can walk through the Kangaroos and see the Koalas.

Wanneroo has a great park called Rotary Park which has just been refurbished to a very high standard with a fantastic play area for the children, great park for birthday celebrations with bbq’s available.

Also in Wanneroo are the Botanical Gardens with older style gardens, leafy hideaways, waterlily filled ponds and waterfalls.  This has a charge of $4 entry for adults which includes a tea or coffee, free entry for the children.  Mini golf is there which is an extra cost.  It is also great place to listen to free live music on a Friday and Saturday nights.

With all the parks, gardens and beaches in  Perth WA  if you pack a picnic or make use of the barbecue facilities, you can have a great day out without a great deal of cost.

Now I’m off to pick the kids up from school,  grab a pizza from Eable Boys for $10,  go to our local park eat our pizza and the kids can play on a winters day !! 

How Lucky am I.

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