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Tuesday, 24 November 2015
Page: 8817


Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (17:37): I understand the comments not put forward by the minister. The problem is that there is this intersection with these group of workers where they are being exploited because of the conditions on their student fees, for example, or on their working holiday visa. So employers are able to exploit them. It may not be that that is the reason they are sponsored to be here but because they are being forced to do things that are out of line with their visa conditions, that is where the coercion sets in. For a student who is forced to work more than 20 hours a week, otherwise they do not have a job, their employer will sack them, it is that type of exploitation. They cannot work legally more than 20 hours a week because they would be in breach of their student visa but here we have the employer exploiting that vulnerability.

I understand it gets into a grey area but it is a very clear intersection between the already large number of vulnerabilities of these workers linked into this business model from employers, whether they are sponsored work visas, whether they are keeping people here as low-paid exploited workers on other types of visas, these people are doing the wrong thing and the people who are copping it, if they speak out, if they do not comply, are the vulnerable workers caught in the middle.

I understand it does not fit exactly with what the government is trying to do in this legislation, but what we are pointing out here is that there is a big gap where most of the exploitation is happening. If we are not going to do it in this piece of legislation, where are we going to do it because it does need to be tackled? Perhaps the minister could give me some indication as to where the government wants to go. If not with these amendments, where are you going to pick up cleaning up the system because, for all the talk, we have not seen amendments to deal with that issue.