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How one proposed Victorian law threatens justice for all

Monday, February 26, 2018

Earlier this month we labelled a proposed Victorian law a 'shocker'. We said that we were preparing a detailed analysis which we have now done. A short summary is here.

The Victorian Labour Hire Licensing Bill is a 'shocker' because it strips away basic access to justice to which everyone in the community should be entitled.

The Bill is supposedly an attempt to stop exploitation of vulnerable, low-paid workers. It's a response to a Four Corners show in May 2015 exposing underpayment of low-paid migrant workers in the rural sector. The Four Corners show was spot on. We discuss this in our analysis and give considerable information on how the exploitation occurred. We also explain how the Fair Work Ombudsman moved in, required back-pay and put in place auditing procedures that have closed down the problems. The FWO has done a great enforcement job.

The Victorian Bill ignores the FWO's excellent work. Instead, the Bill is a direct attack against both small and big, legitimate business activity.

In summary the Bill:
  • Only provides a three-year licence that must be renewed every three years.
  • Allows parties to object to a licence, including unions and a firm's competitors.
  • Enables the cancelling of a licence before judicial review of such cancelling can occur.
The outcome will
  • Deny basic justice because the cancelling of a licence effectively kills a business, which in turn neuters the business's capacity to appeal to the courts.
  • Invite and facilitate corruption because competitors, unions and others will be able to blackmail labour hire firms for favours and money with the promise not to object to licence-holding.
Whether or not you like labour hire, everyone is entitled to justice. Robert Gottliebsen in The Australian today explains the situation well.

We're asking for the Bill to be withdrawn.
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