Government to untangle labour hire laws

The Marshall Liberal Government will seek to amend South Australia’s labour hire laws, with the state’s Attorney-General, Vickie Chapman saying the changes will ensure the laws target those sectors where workers are most vulnerable to exploitation.

Since the legislation was first introduced, the Federal Government has committed nearly $20 million in their Budget to establish a national regime.

Attorney-General Chapman said it was important South Australia’s state laws are consistent with any changes that will be made at a federal level.

“It’s vital that our laws are consistent with action being considered at a national level. I am in regular talks with the Federal Attorney-General to ensure our laws work parallel with any national regime which may be implemented in future,” Ms Chapman said.

In the meantime, Consumer and Business Services have resumed accepting licence applications from businesses that would be covered under the licensing regime after it became apparent the Legislative Council were not going to support the Government’s repeal bill.

“In commencing the scheme under the current legislation, CBS had endeavoured to address flaws in the legislation by exempting certain types of business from requiring a licence,” Attorney-General Chapman said.

“However, since then, it has become clear that – despite these exemptions – the laws as they currently stand will capture a number of businesses that should not require a licence.

“Exempting certain types of business clearly isn’t enough, which is why we need changes to the law.”

Under the proposed changes, the scope of the scheme would be narrowed to capture only those industries where there was a high risk of exploitation, including:

  • Horticulture processing
  • Meat processing
  • Seafood processing
  • Cleaning
  • Trolley collection.

“Ideally, the Legislative Council would have supported the Government’s repeal bill, given the protections and enforcement options exist through a range of other agencies,” Ms Chapman said.

“But since this was clearly not possible, we have no alternative but to make the current laws as workable as we can – and this will require changes.”

The amendments will be introduced to State Parliament this week.