I was recently applying for a job in Australia, and it said
It is a requirement that your most recent supervisor is nominated as one of your referees. Nominated referees may be contacted at any time during the recruitment and selection process.
I don't want my current employer to know that I am applying for jobs elsewhere. Is this requirement normal?
Can an applicant reasonably interpret "most recent supervisor" as the most recent supervisor that you are not currently working for?
( 5 months ago )
I'm not aware of any reason why it would be illegal (though I'm unfamiliar with Australian law), but there's also no reason why you have to play ball.
I would call them, explain that you're unwilling to use your current supervisor and offer a number of others as potential referees. If they still don't want to budge, then just walk away - that could just be the start of a whole string of unreasonable demands.