Australian vegetable industry welcomes National Labour Hire Registration Scheme

| March 9, 2019

Australia’s peak industry body for vegetable and potato growers, AUSVEG, has welcomed the Federal Government decision to finalise a model for a National Labour Hire Registration Scheme.

The horticulture industry has long called for a national labour hire licensing system which would help protect vulnerable workers and growers against illegitimate labour hire operators.

Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations Kelly O’Dwyer has announced that the Federal Government will develop the scheme as part of its ‘ín principle’ acceptance of all 22 recommendations of the Migrant Workers’ Taskforce Report, which was released today.

“The horticulture industry relies heavily on labour hire to supply a workforce, and the majority of growers and labour hire contractors do the right thing and look after their workers. The measures announced today will support our growers by making our entire sector a fairer, safer and more attractive workplace for migrant workers,” said AUSVEG National Public Affairs Manager Tyson Cattle.

“Growers need to have confidence in the hiring process and want to be sure that their labour hire contractors are paying workers properly and doing the right thing. Our industry has had enough of being labelled ‘high-risk’ for workers due to exploitative outliers, and these recommendations are a good step towards cutting them out of the labour landscape.”

Mr Cattle said there was still a lot of detail to be worked out in how the announced registration scheme would work but noted the need for state labour hire licencing schemes would be questioned.

Mr Cattle said it was also positive to see a recommendation to extend the accessorial liability provisions of the Fair Work Act, but more detail was needed. Accessorial liability occurs when a person or company is involved in the contravention of a workplace law, meaning they are treated the same way as the employer responsible for the contravention.

“We welcome the Federal Government’s commitment to protecting migrant workers and we look forward to further details being provided as these recommendations are turned into action,” Mr Cattle said.

AUSVEG is supportive of industry led programs such as Fair Farms Initiative and StaffSure and supports those trying to ensure there is industry compliance.

Mr Cattle said more needs to be done to increase the number of legal workers available to horticulture growers, including developing an Agricultural Visa with in-built compliance requirements.

“Giving growers confidence in their labour hire contractors is a welcome step, but they also need access to a reliable, efficient and competent workforce. A well-structured Agricultural Visa would build this workforce in a way that enforces compliance with labour laws and offers safeguards for workers,” said Mr Cattle.

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