09 August 2021

That this House:

(1) notes that:

(a) many Australian workers are being employed by labour hire companies on low wages and without access to entitlements such as annual leave, sick leave and parental leave;

(b) these workers are often working alongside other workers doing the same job, with the same roster who are employed on higher wages and with access to leave entitlements;

(c) the use of labour hire to avoid paying fair wages and conditions by Australian companies is growing, particularly in Australia's mining industry;

(d) the Federal Court of Australia in the Workpac v Rossato case determined that a worker who was defined as a casual employee by labour hire company Workpac was in fact a full time employee working a full time roster and therefore entitled to leave entitlements; and

(e) Workpac have appealed this decision in the High Court of Australia and the Government has intervened in the case to support the submission of Workpac that Mr Rossato is a casual employee and should not receive leave entitlements;

(2) recognises that the increasing use of labour hire companies by employers to avoid paying fair wages and conditions is reducing the incomes of workers and families, and is having a detrimental impact on their livelihoods, particularly in regional Australia; and

(3) calls on the Government to support Labor's policy and legislation in the Parliament that will ensure workers who do the same job receive the same pay.

I am grateful to the member for Watson, who has just joined us in the chamber, for agreeing to second this motion. It is an incredibly important motion for all Australian workers, and he is equally passionate about stopping worker exploitation.

The resources sector plays a critical role in our national economy and never more so than at this time, when we are reliant on iron ore and coal being extracted and exported whilst many of our major economies are in lockdown, including in my own area of the Hunter. The workers of this sector are being left behind because of the Morrison government. My electorate of Paterson is proudly part of the Hunter region and workers across the Hunter are being exploited because their government has been weak and, staying true to their narrow-minded ideology, they are leaving workers behind. If you are doing the same job as the person alongside you, you should be getting the same rate of pay.

Labor has a plan to ensure that workers in the mining sector receive the same pay for the same job. It is very simple: if you do the work, you deserve the pay and the entitlements that go with it. Last week, casual miners hopes were, sadly, dashed due to this government selling them out by teaming up with some greedy bosses to overturn their rights. The High Court decision was backed by the federal government and this has dashed the hopes of casual coalminers seeking justice and, more importantly, a pathway to permanency.

I commend the miners union for its work in fighting back against this terrible injustice. We know the WorkPac v Rossato appeal judgement winds back significant wins for casuals established in the WorkPac v Skene Federal Court decisions, including a commonsense definition of 'casual' based on the reality of work arrangements and a pathway to compensation for exploited casuals. In short, if you are working full-time hours doing the full-time job, you are a full-time employee and you deserve to be treated as such.

I agree with the mining and energy union general President Tony Maher, who stated that the decision was deeply disappointing for coalminers, who were desperate for change in this industry. I have a clear message for the workers and the miners in my electorate in this industry: don't get angry, just get even at the ballot box, because this government has sold you out and the legislation was passed by the Morrison government. In March, we'll have the opportunity to have our say.