Senate debates

Thursday, 5 August 2021


Workplace Relations

1:50 pm

Photo of Tony SheldonTony Sheldon (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

[by video link] Yesterday the High Court ruled and delivered a judgement in the WorkPac v Rossato case. Let's make no mistake: it is a victory for labour hire companies and the Morrison government against hardworking Australians. The government and multinational labour hire companies, over the last two years, have worked hand in hand to crush the rights of casual labour hire workers in mines. The Morrison government chose to intervene in this case not on the side of hardworking Australians but on the side of multinational, multibillion-dollar labour hire companies. The Morrison government spent almost $300,000 of public money on legal fees in this case to keep the labour hire rort alive. That shows what side the Morrison government is on.

Legal experts are warning that the Rossato precedent could be used to uphold sham contracting arrangements and attack the Australian middle class. It could stop workers of Uber, who have been paid as little as $6.70 an hour, with no workers' comp, no leave entitlements, no unfair dismissal rights and no collective bargaining rights, from fighting for the minimum wage. From the University of Adelaide, Andrew Stewart said:

It's an open invitation to businesses to hire workers as independent contractors rather than employees—meaning they don't just miss out on annual leave, but minimum wages, limits on working hours, the right to complain of unfair dismissal, and maybe super and workers' compensation as well.

Rather than spending taxpayer money to uphold exploitation, the Morrison government should be legislating for the rights of all workers, whether employees or contractors.