The Labour Hire Licensing Repeal Bill 2018 repeals the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 introduced by the former government. The act currently requires anyone who provides labour hire in South Australia to be licensed. However, since the commencement of the licensing scheme, the government has received numerous complaints about the scheme's scope and application.
Numerous written submissions have been made to my office, including from industry representative groups and small businesses, outlining their confusion, angst and concerns in relation to the scheme. As a result of this, I undertook to closely review the issues raised, in consultation with Consumer and Business Services (CBS), who have also been made aware of concerns from various businesses and industry groups across SA.
Following a review of the submissions received, it has become apparent that the licensing scheme applies to a range of businesses that were not intended to be captured while failing to address the very issues that the scheme was supposed to address, namely the exploitation of workers. Whilst these matters were raised in previous debates, this situation now confirms those concerns.
These laws do very little to increase protections for workers and instead create an unnecessary layer of red tape for a number of industries that should not be captured by regulations governing labour hire. If the scheme is to proceed as it currently stands, there is a high likelihood that we will be regulating industries and business arrangements that extend well beyond what is reasonably required.
In September this year, I wrote to the labour hire industry to advise of the government's intention to seek the repeal of this legislation, and I must say that the response from industry groups in relation to this has been overwhelmingly supportive. Workers already have important protections under commonwealth and state legislation, and the government is of the firm view that existing laws can be better utilised to deliver a far more effective response to issues within the labour hire industry, as opposed to the unworkable laws introduced by the former government.
To more effectively tackle the issues at hand, I have already established a task force whose primary purpose is to facilitate cross-agency and departmental collaboration aimed at reducing the number and impact of unscrupulous labour hire providers in SA. The task force, which includes representatives from CBS, ReturnToWork SA, Safe Work SA, RevenueSA and the Small Business Commissioner, has undertaken a review of existing laws and determined that these are sufficient to deal with issues that have been raised in relation to the labour hire sector.
Strengthened cross-agency information sharing and continued operation of the task force to promote appropriate information sharing will enable a collaborative approach to be taken to address the relevant labour hire issues and concerns and support the compliance and enforcement activities that can occur under existing legislation. The task force will focus on protecting vulnerable workers by sharing data that would more effectively identify, and potentially prosecute, those unscrupulous operators who are seeking to take advantage of workers.
I commend the bill to the house, and I seek leave to insert the explanation of clauses in Hansard without my reading it. It is a very short bill, but the explanation nonetheless is provided.
Explanation of Clauses
This clause is formal.
Part 2—Repeal of Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017
2—Repeal of Act
This clause repeals the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017.
Debate adjourned on motion of Mr Gee.