Farm­ers call for a lo­cal say

Central and North Burnett Times - - THE FENCE POST -

LABOUR hire scams could be pre­vented if a Fair Work Om­buds­man was based out of the Wide Bay, a Queens­land par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee has heard.

The par­lia­ment’s Fi­nance and Ad­min­is­tra­tion Com­mit­tee is con­sid­er­ing new li­cens­ing schemes for labour hire com­pa­nies to stop them rip­ping off farm­ers and itin­er­ant work­ers.

Bund­aberg Fruit and Veg­etable Grow­ers chair­man Al­lan Mahoney said hav­ing an om­buds­man on the ground in Bund­aberg full-time could help pre­vent scams.

“Hav­ing a fly-in, fly-out om­buds­man is not the an­swer,” Mr Mahoney said.

“We need to have an om­buds­man based in Bund­aberg. There would be more op­por­tu­ni­ties to fix these prob­lems as any arise and not just as a Band-Aid,” he said.

Mr Mahoney said he had not seen an om­buds­man in the re­gion for more than six months.

He said this needed to change, in or­der to give farm­ers across the re­gion a fair go.

Fel­low farmer Gino Mar­con and East Bundy Back­pack­ers co-owner Brian Sparkes echoed Mr Mahoney’s calls for an om­buds­man to be based in Bund­aberg.

Bund­aberg grower Sue Zaina said she be­lieved all labour hire com­pa­nies should be li­censed – even if that re­sulted in higher fees for farm­ers.

“It would be a relief to know (li­cens­ing) was hap­pen­ing, that there is a le­gal regime labour hire com­pa­nies have to meet,” Ms Zaina said.

She said the com­mit­tee’s re­port needed to recog­nise the prob­lems ex­isted in labour hire and not with back­pack­ers.

Youth Hos­tels Aus­tralia chief Ju­lian Ledger said he had heard re­ports of labour hire com­pa­nies rip­ping off back­pack­ers for “as long as he could re­mem­ber”.

“It seems too easy to set up a labour hire com­pany. All it seems you need is a mo­bile phone and a lap­top,” Mr Ledger said.

The com­mit­tee will hear from stake­hold­ers in Mo­ran­bah be­fore the re­port is pub­lished to­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.