Nationals support Keith’s push for taskforce
The Nationals have this weekend voted unanimously in favour of a motion moved by Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt, seeking a multi-jurisdictional taskforce to address exploitation of foreign workers in the horticulture sector.
At The Nationals 2014 Federal Conference in Canberra Mr Pitt moved that: “this Federal Council recognises the existence of labour hire contractors who are not paying employees correctly, and calls on the Government to form a multi-jurisdictional, multi-portfolio task force to advise enforcement agencies”.
The motion was seconded by former police detective, Senator Barry O’Sullivan.
Mr Pitt said the motion was another positive step forward in his efforts to tackle the “seedy underbelly” that exists in farming communities across the country.
“Allegations and complaints made to my office range from the underpayment and exploitation of workers to tax evasion, visa breaches, racial discrimination, intimidation of farmers and overcrowding in private residential dwellings,” Mr Pitt said.
“Earlier this year, Senator O’Sullivan and I hosted a stakeholder forum in Brisbane. The very clear message we received from that meeting was that new legislation and further inquiries are not the answer.
“Stakeholders want real action. They say there needs to be greater enforcement of existing laws and greater cooperation between the many relevant agencies, across all three levels of Government.
“I have briefed the relevant Ministers on the issue and the outcomes of that forum, and will continue to work with them going forward.
“It is imperative that we ensure our seasonal workers are protected; that businesses have a level playing field and Australia remains a destination of choice for overseas students and holiday makers.
“Seasonal workers are vital to Queensland’s agriculture and tourism industries and the Australian economy more broadly.”
Media contact: Larine Statham 0427 653 814