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Labour hire laws pass State Parliament

18 June 2020

Reforms to labour hire laws that ensure they will focus on industries where workers are most vulnerable to exploitation have passed State Parliament this week.

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said the changes were needed because the laws introduced by the former Government imposed a licensing regime on all industries regardless of risk, resulting in significant red tape and cost burden for many businesses. 

"We've narrowed the scope of the scheme to address this, and ensure we're targeting those industries with a higher risk of exploiting vulnerable workers - namely horticulture, meat and seafood processing, as well as cleaning and trolley collection sectors," Ms Chapman said. 

"This is consistent with the Migrant Workers' Taskforce Final Report and in line with current proposals being considered nationally." 

The new laws provide greater clarity around the circumstances where a licence would be required and will reduce the number of low risk local businesses captured by the previous licensing scheme. 

"The reforms mean that a number of businesses who are currently licensed will no longer need to be."

The Government intends to implement these reforms as soon as possible to avoid businesses that will no longer be required to be licensed from having to pay the periodic annual fee for the forthcoming year. Small businesses that do not need to be licensed should not be subject to these fees, especially during these challenging times due to COVID-19.

Details about a commencement date and information about next steps for licensees will be made available on the CBS website shortly. 

Attorney-General Chapman said the new laws had been a long time coming, after initial plans to repeal the laws did not have adequate support from the Legislative Council. 

"Our previous attempts to repeal this law were unsuccessful and despite our best efforts to exempt businesses through other means, the legislation still didn't hit the mark," she said.

"The law as originally passed was simply not workable, and cast far too wide a net.

"These amendments will help ensure we're targeting those areas where workers are most vulnerable, and send a clear message that any business taking advantage of their workers will be held to account.

"With that in mind, we will act to ensure these new laws come into effect as soon as possible."