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Thursday, 3 December 2015
Page: 9823


Senator KIM CARR (Victoria) (13:55): The Export Control Amendment (Quotas) Bill 2015 is important to the meat industry. It is a bill that once again facilitates the reduction in red tape, according to the government. It is a bill that, of course, goes to a major export industry said to be worth some $30 billion. It is an industry where, I understand, we are producing something like $50 billion worth of product a year, so two-thirds of the industry is about exports.

Tomorrow I will, hopefully, get the opportunity to discuss with the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union in Melbourne at the annual Christmas party these issues that are being canvassed. The concern that the meat industry union would have on behalf of the workers who actually produce this $30 billion worth of export product would be the way in which the deregulation approach of this government, if allowed to be implemented, could see substantial increases in the abuse and exploitation of meatworkers, all of which we have seen too often in this industry as a result of unscrupulous employers, who rely upon the skills of meat industry workers to ensure that we have the high-quality product that produces such wealth for this nation. The meat industry union tomorrow at its Christmas party will undoubtedly want to know the position of this parliament about the measures that are being taken to protect wages and conditions in the industry and what actions this government has taken to undermine unions' rights to organise and ensure that the conditions of labour are protected in such a way as to preserve the living standards of meatworkers in this country.

When we are discussing a bill of this importance, we ought to be making sure we understand the value of workers who produce the wealth of this nation and the capacity of this government to increase the level of exploitation and abuse of workers as we have seen particularly through the immigration system, which has now seen a massive number of cases emerge in meatworks. We have seen people being abused under 457 visas, backpacker visas and various other holiday-maker visas designed to undermine the wages and conditions of workers in the meat industry—a proposition which I strongly condemn.