Labour Hire Practices

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (14:33): My question is to the Attorney-General. Can the Attorney update the house on what commitments the federal government has made to protect vulnerable workers in high-risk sectors?

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN (Bragg—Deputy Premier, Attorney-General) (14:33): I thank the member for Hammond—

Mr Odenwalder interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The member for Elizabeth is called to order.

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: —for this important question. I would think every member of the house would be interested to hear of the advances in relation to the protection of vulnerable workers in high-risk sectors, particularly the member for Hammond, who of course has a number of areas of industry in his electorate that require the services under the labour hire industry.

In March, the commonwealth government released the Migrant Workers' Taskforce report. It found that horticulture, cleaning, meat processing and security industries are particularly high risk for unscrupulous labour hire practices.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The member for Cheltenham and the member for Elizabeth are warned.

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: Of particular relevance to South Australia is the federal government committing to the establishment of a national labour hire scheme to ensure transparency—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order! We have the question.

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: —and compliance with the Australian laws in the labour hire industry in high-risk sectors. I would think all members would find this welcome news. This is resourced by an allocation of $19.8 million in the most recent federal budget—that's in the budget, identified, locked in, not a promise, in the budget. Many stakeholders informed the task force that the laws applying to labour hire were adequate yet needed to be better enforced.

Ms Hildyard interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The member for Reynell is called to order.

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: The then state government back in 2017, with minister Rau leading the way, insisted we needed this state-based scheme. So I remind members of the house that the South Australian act was introduced in response to exploitative practices against migrant workers on farms and in food processing. It is even doubtful whether the workers most at risk are even captured by the scheme as it is currently written into law, as there is a risk that the laws only capture traditional triangular supply-type labour arrangements and not workforce contracting.

As it is currently legislated, it has high fees and would impose a significant regulatory burden on the businesses that have no record of exploiting workers. A well-targeted, industry-specific model capable of enforcement is the model that this government wished to see whilst they were in opposition. I also agree with the federal government: it is far better for the industry and for workers if we have a single national scheme rather than different and overlapping state-based systems.

In addition to providing the significant funding for a national labour hire registration scheme, heavier penalties will be introduced for sham contracting, increased resources will be made available to the Fair Work Ombudsman and a critical education campaign will take place for migrant workers. That is why I commend the federal Liberal government for committing to implement a national labour hire registration model that actually protects the most vulnerable workers most at risk and, importantly, does not add a surfeit of red tape to businesses that are already doing the right thing. I thank the federal government for the commitment in its budget.

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