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Victoria and Queensland collaboration bodes well for future of labour hire regulation in Australia

12 December 2023
Victoria and Queensland collaboration bodes well for future of labour hire regulation in Australia

Collaboration between Victoria’s Labour Hire Authority (LHA) and Queensland’s Labour Hire Licensing Compliance Unit (LHLCU) enables regulators in both states to improve the transparency and integrity of the industry.

Multiple high-profile cases were successfully prosecuted by Queensland’s LHLCU in 2023. LHA collaborates with the LHLCU - as well as other regulators - to tackle worker exploitation among providers operating in multiple states where labour hire licensing schemes are in place.

“Working with regulators in other states is critical to maintaining a fair and lawful labour hire industry,” Victoria’s Labour Hire Licensing Commissioner Steve Dargavel said.

“Many labour hire businesses provide workers across state lines, so sharing information and resources between us, such as the work we do with Queensland’s LHLCU, help maintain a fair and transparent industry across Australia,” he said.

In October, LHLCU informed LHA about acts of non-compliance it had dealt with by cancelling and refusing the licences of two providers in the security industry.

The providers were supplying workers to hosts at costs below the minimum cost of complying with their legal obligations, indicating a high risk that workers were not being properly paid.

The providers were found to be engaged in unlicensed labour hire activities – having breached sections 10 and 11 of the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 (QLD) – and to have engaged in significant non-compliance with their taxation obligations.

LHA has issued show cause notices for cancellation of both licences in Victoria.

Queensland security company fined for operating unlicensed

South Australia-based security company Agile Group (Global) Pty Ltd and its chief operating officer, were prosecuted in October 2023 for supplying security guards without being licensed to do so, following an investigation by LHLCU.

The investigation commenced after a complaint made by a security guard for non-payment of superannuation. Despite being warned about providing labour hire services without a licence, Agile Group (Global) did not apply for a labour hire licence in Queensland and continued to provide labour to venues throughout Queensland for more than six months.

Agile Group (Global) was fined $150,000.

Queensland horticulture company prosecuted and fined for misleading workers into believing it was licensed

Queensland’s LHLCU also successfully prosecuted North Farming Pty Ltd and Ranjit Singh as Trustee for the Farming First Trust in October 2023, for breaches of the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 (Qld).

The separate matters included the first successful prosecutions where the requirement to be licensed under the state’s labour hire laws was knowingly and deliberately avoided, by disguising the fact the labour hire provider was not licensed and misleading farmers into believing the arrangements were legitimate.

North Farming and Ranjit Singh had convictions recorded and were fined $300,000 and $60,000 respectively. Further, the magistrate ordered Ranjit Singh to pay the fine within a six-month period and stipulated that failure to meet that instruction could result in six months’ imprisonment.

The prosecutions showed neither North Farming nor Ranjit Singh held a licence when they supplied fruit-pickers and labourers to fruit farms in North Queensland. Further, they provided labour hire services without having a workers' compensation policy in place.

Engagement across state lines

In July 2023, a tailored webinar was held for approved employers in the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM), with over 40 PALM employers in attendance.

The session was presented jointly by LHA and LHLCU, providing the opportunity to cover PALM employers operating in both jurisdictions.

“PALM scheme workers can be especially vulnerable to exploitation, so it was encouraging to see the strong turnout and level of engagement from PALM employers at this session,” said Steve Dargavel, Labour Hire Licensing Commissioner.

“This session highlighted the similar objectives and degree of collaboration between our states, given our common purpose to protect workers and improve the labour hire industry,” said Eimear Moran, LHLCU Director.

More information

Read more about Queensland’s Labour Hire Licensing Compliance Unit.