La­bor ex­ploita­tion risk

Shepparton News - Country News - - NEWS -

Busi­nesses that em­ploy back­pack­ers will be able to keep the de­tails se­cret un­der leg­is­la­tion which La­bor says could leave work­ers vul­ner­a­ble to ex­ploita­tion.

A bill en­sur­ing em­ploy­ers of work­ing hol­i­day-mak­ers don’t have to re­lease regis­tra­tion in­for­ma­tion pub­licly cleared par­lia­ment last Wed­nes­day, with Cen­tre Al­liance’s two se­na­tors de­liv­er­ing the gov­ern­ment vic­tory.

La­bor front­bencher Doug Cameron said keep­ing the in­for­ma­tion se­cret would wind back an im­por­tant trans­parency mea­sure in­cluded in the gov­ern­ment’s con­tro­ver­sial back­packer tax pack­age.

‘‘I am dis­gusted that the Coali­tion has al­lowed this to come for­ward to ex­ploit work­ers just be­cause they’ve done an­other grubby deal to save their own necks,’’ Sen­a­tor Cameron told par­lia­ment.

One of the bill’s key sup­port­ers, cross­bench sen­a­tor David Ley­on­hjelm, said it would stop the Aus­tralian Work­ers’ Union from ha­rass­ing farm­ers.

‘‘They have enough prob­lems with droughts, floods and even nee­dles in straw­ber­ries with­out Sen­a­tor Cameron’s bovver boy mates knock­ing on their door,’’ Sen­a­tor Ley­on­hjelm said.

In­de­pen­dents Der­ryn Hinch and Tim Storer were against the bill, but the gov­ern­ment was able to se­cure enough cross­bench sup­port with­out their votes.

Sen­a­tor Hinch re­mem­bered the mur­der of English trav­eller Mia Ayliffe-Chung, who died while she was work­ing in Queens­land, say­ing back­pack­ers needed more pro­tec­tions.

He said some work­ers were be­ing ex­ploited by some un­scrupu­lous bosses.

‘‘I’ve heard of girls be­ing told they must have sex­ual re­la­tions with the em­ployer if they want him to sign off on the 88 days — and that is dis­gust­ing,’’ Sen­a­tor Hinch said.

In late 2016, the Coali­tion teamed up with the Greens to se­cure a 15 per cent in­come tax rate on work­ing hol­i­day mak­ers.

Greens sen­a­tor Peter Whish-Wil­son said the pub­lic reg­is­ter was crit­i­cal to the back­packer tax pack­age.

‘‘This bloody reg­is­ter . . . was part of the deal we did with the gov­ern­ment when we passed the back­packer leg­is­la­tion,’’ he said.

Leg­is­la­tion ques­tioned . . . New leg­is­la­tion has sparked a de­bate re­gard­ing the em­ploy­ment and po­ten­tial ex­ploita­tion of back­pack­ers.

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