National vegetable grower
body AUSVEG has welcomed the Australian Labor Party’s plans to tackle worker
exploitation, and is now calling on them to work with the Federal Government to
implement a register of firms to clean up the labour hire sector.

The ALP’s proposed reforms introduce specific penalties for deliberately
exploiting temporary overseas workers.

“Temporary overseas workers play a vital role in the Australian horticulture
industry during peak seasonal periods, and ensuring their safety and wellbeing
is crucial if they are going to continue to contribute to the success of our
industry,” said AUSVEG Deputy CEO Andrew White.

AUSVEG is the leading horticultural body representing more than 9,000
Australian vegetable and potato growers.

“However, it’s important to target the source of this unconscionable behaviour
– rogue labour hire firms who take advantage of workers and then vanish without
a trace,” said Mr White.

To ensure accountability in the labour hire sector, AUSVEG has proposed a
scheme where labour hire firms would need to seek approval from the Departments
of Employment and Immigration, the Australian Taxation Office, and the
workplace safety body in their state before gaining accreditation as an
approved firm and being placed on a public register.

“We’re pleased to see Labor’s willingness to protect workers and ensure that
rogue operators don’t further damage Australia’s reputation, and we’re asking
Labor to commit to further action,” said Mr White.

“There has already been a reduction of over 34,000 Working Holiday Maker visa
holders coming to Australia in the past two years, partly due to the damage
that unscrupulous labour hire operators have inflicted on Australia’s
international reputation.”

“While introducing new penalties and strengthening existing measures may act as
a deterrent, effective reform is needed to prevent exploitative companies from
being able to access workers in the first place.”

“By working with the Federal Government to implement a positive register for
labour hire firms, the ALP could help clean up a sector rife with misconduct.”

White, AUSVEG Deputy CEO
Phone: (03) 9882 0277, Mobile: 0409 989 575, Email: