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Speech: Fair Work Amendment

Speeches in Parliament
Mehreen Faruqi 16 Sep 2019

I rise on behalf of the Greens to make a short statement on the disallowance of the Fair Work Amendment (Casual Loading Offset) Regulations 2018. We all know that casualisation is up. We know that rising job insecurity is stretching people to breaking point. Working people are under attack like never before. They now have less certainty and fewer rights at work than at any time in recent history. Let me be blunt: insecure work is wrecking people's lives, yet this government is only about protecting big business. We know employers are abusing the use of casual employment by hiring workers as indefinite casuals or on rolling contracts. They do this so they have no obligation to provide long-term job security or minimum entitlements, like sick leave or annual leave, and this government is in the business of making that easier. They're making it easier for big business to exploit workers. They're making it easier for employers to claim that they didn't know the rules when they have clearly been established by the recent Federal Court of Australia decision in WorkPac v Skene. The case highlighted the fact that casual employment is being used widely by employers to deny workers even the most basic of entitlements under the National Employment Standards. The decision reaffirmed earlier court decisions in reiterating that just because an employer chooses to classify a worker as casual doesn't mean that the worker is indeed casual. We know that employers are trying to get out of paying entitlements to their workers. Through this regulation the government is now saying that, when employers are caught out treating someone as a casual who in reality is a permanent worker, the employer should be able to rely on their own wrongdoing to avoid paying the worker their full entitlements.

The Greens have been pushing for years to legislate for fair working conditions, legislation that would ensure that we have equal pay for equal work no matter whether you're classified as a casual or whether you work in the gig economy. For this government, though, everything is about being run for profit. It's all about systems that favour the wealthy and the big corporations. We know that wages have flatlined and too many people are in insecure work. We will fight any moves to cut the pay of this country's lowest-paid workers. Wage growth has stagnated, penalty rates have been cut, inequality is rising and underemployment remains stubbornly high, and casual workers are feeling the brunt of this big shift. The Greens have always stood up for casual and low-paid workers. We were the first to introduce legislation to bring back penalty rates and introduce bills that would extend minimum standards to all workers and allow long-term casuals to convert to full-time or part-time employees. The Greens will support this disallowance motion.

The PRESIDENT: The question is that the motion moved by Senator Farrell be agreed to.


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