Insecure Work Inquiry

Ms HUTCHINS (Minister for Industrial Relations) — I rise to inform the house of a new initiative of the Victorian government: our inquiry into insecure work and our commitment to regulate the labour hire industry in Victoria. We will also be advocating for a national response to what I class as a national shame — the exploitation and abuse of workers at some workplaces across this country.

Last night the ABC’s Four Corners exposed some very concerning issues, and I will be advocating on behalf of these workers in the next few months at our first meeting of the commonwealth, state and territory ministers for workplace relations. This is not only an issue about the underpayment of wages; this is about creating an underclass of foreign workers, which should not be happening in our state or anywhere in our country. No employee should ever be exploited, harassed or deprived of their basic rights, as we saw in the exposé last night.

It is clear that Victoria needs a better system in place when it comes to regulating labour hire. Every worker should be treated with fairness and respect, and every unethical labour hire contractor should know that these activities will not be tolerated in Victoria. That is why the Andrews government is conducting an inquiry into insecure work, including sham contracting and the operation of the labour hire industry.

The exploitation of workers across Australia is something that also needs to be addressed at a national level, and I will be speaking with my national counterparts about this. Since last night’s Four Corners episode aired, I have had numerous emails describing the situation as shameful. I raised these issues with those opposite when they were in government not just once or twice but three times, asking them to do something about it, but those requests fell on deaf ears. It is only the Andrews government that will stand up for workers and fight for fairness in our workplaces.