Black Economy Exploitation Demands National Response

The Andrews Labor Government is demanding the Turnbull Government take action now to stop the systematic exploitation of workers and implement a national labour hire scheme.

In its submission to Canberra’s Black Economy Taskforce, the Labor Government called on the Commonwealth to introduce licensing requirements for labour hire providers – a measure that would crack down on dodgy operators and provide a boost for legitimate businesses.

Despite the Taskforce linking elements of the Black Economy to serious criminal behaviour such as “money laundering, immigration fraud and other abuses” appeals to the Liberals and Nationals for action have consistently fallen on deaf ears.

Minister for Industrial Relations Natalie Hutchins most recently raised the issue with Federal Employment Minister Michaelia Cash at a Ministerial Council in Canberra this month.

The Victorian Government has demanded the Turnbull Government immediately:

  • implement a national labour hire licensing scheme
  • tighten provisions in the Fair Work Act that prohibit employers from misrepresenting direct employees as independent contractors
  • oppose recommendations of the Productivity Commission that seek to remove the right of labour hire employees to be covered by enterprise agreements
  • take action to prevent underpayment/non-payment of award rates, stop unlawful deductions from employees (eg. for accommodation) and shame contracting

In the absence of any national leadership, the Victorian Government is currently finalising its own licensing scheme, with plans to implement in the coming months.

A 2016 independent report into the Labour Hire Industry and Insecure Work uncovered widespread exploitation of Victorian workers, who are commonly underpaid, mistreated and working under poor occupational health and safety practices.

The Labor Government’s submission is available at

Quotes attributable to Minister for Industrial Relations Natalie Hutchins

We need a national response to what has become a national shame.”

“The Black Economy has also been linked to serious criminal activity, but these do-nothing Liberals are more interested in having lobsters with mobsters than protecting vulnerable workers.”

“While the Victorian Government is stepping up to deliver a state based licensing scheme, the consensus is clear: only a coordinated national approach can bring the swift and resolute action that this issue demands.”