The proposed Labour Hire Licensing Bill will do little to improve conditions for workers in the horticultural industry. There is a chronic lack of enforcement of existing employee protection laws that is allowing unscrupulous employers to exploit workers.
“Victoria does not need the Labour Hire Licensing Bill to protect vulnerable workers. The government could improve worker conditions by enforcing existing legislation. Fair Work Australia and many other regulators are already in place to act against unscrupulous employers” said VFF Horticulture President, Emma Germano.
The Victorian Farmers Federation is concerned that the proposed legislation will only drive worker exploitation underground. The VFF calls on Upper House MPs to protect Victorian agriculture against the Government’s gatekeeper bureaucracy.
“Setting up a new legislative system with associated licensing and enforcement costs to manage issues that are already covered by extensive State and Federal laws, is expensive and unnecessary.
“We are concerned that it will be farmers, not labour hire contract firms that will be targeted by Government enforcement operations. Under the proposed changes farmers could face $500,000 fines, which would have the potential to cripple farm businesses. The proposed bill will also exacerbate the enduring shortage of harvest labour, particularly for smaller farms.
“This legislation is not fit for purpose. The Upper House should question why they are being asked to imbed union influence within a regulatory body. We implore them to vote against this Bill” said Ms Germano.
Emma Germano, Horticulture President, Victorian Farmers Federation, 0423 774 477
Heather Smillie, Stakeholder Policy & Advocacy Officer, 0400 874 589