Labour Hire Licensing Bill 2017

Written on the 25 May 2018

25 May 2018


Second reading 

GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)


Ms CROZIER Well, thank you very much, Acting President, and I am very pleased to be able to rise this afternoon and make a contribution to this important debate. I was listening very carefully to Mrs Peulich's excellent contribution, and you sat Mr Dalidakis None of which was relevant to the legislation at all.

Ms CROZIER That is just where you get it so wrong, don't you, Mr Dalidakis? This is the issue

Mr Gepp On a point of order, Acting President, Ms Crozier was reflecting on your ruling, your application of the standing orders, to sit Mrs Peulich down at the end of her contribution. I would invite you to invite Ms Crozier to perhaps apologise to you, Chair, for reflecting on your ruling.

The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Melhem) Thank you, Mr Gepp. There is no point of order. The time . . .

Mrs Peulich interjected.

The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Melhem) Mrs Peulich, I do not need your assistance, please. Mrs Peulich simply finished her comments, and I asked her to sit down.

Ms CROZIER Thank you, Acting President. I concur there was absolutely no point of order. As I say, Mrs Peulich was making some excellent contributions on what is a very important debate that we are having this afternoon. The Labour Hire Licensing Bill 2017 is actually a bill that is far-reaching. It is a wolf in sheep's clothing that actually extends right across an industry, the small business sector and other areas of business where it will have large ramifications. There have been speakers on this side of the chamber that have gone through the bill in detail, because it is an extensive bill. We have got something like 100 pages and 120 different clauses, which are very technical and they need to be understood. I have been very pleased with the contributions of speakers both in this place and the Assembly. I particularly want to acknowledge the opposition's Mr Clark in the Assembly for his very extensive and thorough second-reading speech on this bill. I would urge those opposite to read that because he highlights extensively and very clearly the full ramifications of what it will mean to Victorian businesses if this legislation is passed.

Mr Gepp interjected.


Ms CROZIER Well, Mr Gepp, you are one of the union champions.

Mrs Peulich On a point of order, Acting President, I just want to point out that Mr Gepp has been taking point of order after point of order, which in many instances have not been upheld, and yet he is more than happy to continue interjecting and contributing to the interruptions of the house to which he has objected.

The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Melhem) I do not think there is any point of order. There have been interjections happening from both ends.

Ms CROZIER Thank you, Acting President. As I was about to say before I was interrupted by Mr Gepp, who was speaking about the issues of vulnerable workers, I think that is one of the issues with the government's own inquiry, the Forsyth inquiry, the expert inquiry that they put together to ensure that this issue was looked at, and I will come back to that point. The point of this bill is to require all firms providing labour hire services in or from Victoria to be licensed. The main provisions of this bill are very extensive. It is not just one or two provisions. They are going to have profound changes that will alter the ability for businesses to be able to operate in a flexible manner in this state. As Mrs Peulich and others have highlighted very clearly, that will have massive ramifications for businesses who are locked into this rigid legislation.

As I said, it is a wolf in sheep's clothing. It is a smokescreen for what is actually going to occur if this legislation gets through. I have read parts of it and I have actually read parts of the Forsyth inquiry too, Mr Gepp, because I wanted to understand a little bit more about what this was actually about. I have read the contributions in the other house. I have not read all of it in detail, but from what I have read I understand that some of those provisions, which have been highlighted, are very concerning.

The provisions are very extensive. They include an extended definition of 'labour hire services', including placing workers to be employed by an employer where the provider also arranges accommodation; placing independent contractors where the provider also manages the contract; prohibitions on offering or using unlicensed labour hire services, with large civil penalties; a labour hire licensing authority consisting of a single commissioner appointed by Governor in Council, with inspectors and other staff; extensive information to be provided in all licensing applications, with the right of the authority to require any further information that in itself is just hugely cumbersome details of applicants to be made public; and any interested person entitled to object. That again has enormous ramifications for anyone. The extent of the bill is extraordinary.

A licence is to be refused if the applicant is not a fit and proper person. A person is a fit and proper person unless they or a body corporate of which they were an officer has certain convictions, has had a labour hire licence cancelled or has been insolvent or disqualified under the Corporations Act 2001 within various time periods. Licences may be subject to any conditions determined by the authority another concerning element. Licences are for three years and must then be renewed. Fees to be specified by regulation are to be paid for applications, and fee levels are to be determined following a regulatory impact statement process and are intended to be a full cost recovery. Specified information must be provided annually, and any changes to information provided must be notified within 30 days.

The authority may vary licence conditions by notice to the licence-holder. A register of licence-holders is to be publicly available, as well as the details of refused applicants and cancelled licences. There are rights for inspectors to enter premises and obtain documents. The level to which they can go when going into a business to ensure compliance with the legislation is far-reaching and will have huge ramifications for businesses. It is quite extraordinary.

There is a right for licence applicants or objectors to seek review by VCAT of any licence-related decision made by the authority and a right for the authority to pass on information to any other relevant regulator. There is a capacity for regulations to be exempt from the definition of providing labour hire services any class of provider, type of services or class of worker and to deem when a worker does work for a business or when a business is a host. They are the main provisions. I read them out on purpose because they are very extensive. I wanted to just highlight to the chamber, as I said, the provisions that the other speakers have teased out in more detail.

Mr Ondarchie just entered the chamber. He did a magnificent job of highlighting the flaws in this bill and how it is actually going to play out in the real world. But of course the union members the union masters that are controlling this government want exactly this. They want overburdensome regulation where they can control businesses and they can determine what will go on within those businesses.

I referred to the Forsyth inquiry, which I did have a look at before I came into the chamber. Its recommendations were very specific regarding the particular sectors where there has been abuse of workers, and rightly so. Those sectors should be held to account. They should have the civil or criminal laws applied to them if they have breached anything. There is absolutely no justification for abusing workers' rights in the way some have done in the fruit-picking industry that others have highlighted. That is why recommendation 14 in the Forsyth report says:

I recommend that Victoria introduce a licensing scheme for labour hire agencies, that is initially targeted at those supplying labour in the following specific sectors: the horticultural industry (including the picking and packing of fresh fruit and vegetables), and the meat and cleaning industries. I also recommend that capacity be provided within the framework for the proposed Victorian labour hire licensing system, allowing it to be expanded to cover other industry sectors, or to be contracted in response to changing practices in the regulated industries.

He recommended the scheme for those three industries. That is what the Forsyth recommendations say.

Mr Gepp interjected.

Ms CROZIER Mr Gepp, you and your industrial left. We saw you on the video. It was very clear. You stood there with Mr Setka, who was flexing his muscles. You were right beside him, through you, Acting President, and the industrial left that you are very, very strongly involved with. We have seen with this government the mastery of Peter Marshall, who is pulling the strings of this government. We have seen that through the United Firefighters Union issues, and Mr Gepp, you have stood side by side with John Setka on that industrial left video. You are wanting to heavy small businesses. There are many thousands of family businesses in this state that are objecting to the lengths to which this legislation goes because they know that the overburdensome regulation the red tape that you are putting onto businesses is going to be absolutely impossible to manage and to achieve.

In terms of some of the appeal processes, businesses cannot possibly operate under these strict guidelines. They will go to the wall. You will have your way. You will have a hugely unionised workforce. That is why you want this bill to go through because the union numbers are declining, and you know it.

Mr Gepp interjected.

Ms CROZIER And no wonder why with the tactics that the unions play out all the time. Those heavy, industrial unions that you have been a part of with John Setka are showing their true colours now. There are legitimate businesses out there who do the right thing, and they do not need overburdensome regulation like this imposed on them, Mr Gepp. Through you, Acting President, as I was saying, there needs to be a balance and there needs to be some responsible application of what we are talking about here. This bill does not provide that balance, and it does not provide a reasonable example of how small businesses should be able to operate in this state. It will be cumbersome and overburdensome and it will be detrimental to the Victorian economy. Somebody who I admire very

Mr Morris Acting President, using the precedent Ms Shing set in the house on Wednesday, I draw your attention to the state of the house. I do not believe a quorum is present.

Quorum formed.

Ms CROZIER I thought I had more time to make my contribution. As I was saying, this is industrial relations by stealth, and in terms of what this government is doing it is an absolute disgrace. I need more time to finish my contribution because I have got more to say about this dreadful piece of legislation.

Mr Dalidakis interjected.

Ms CROZIER You might yell and scream, but you are puppets to the unions, Mr Dalidakis.



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