BACKPACKER TAX: Visa workers could be deterred from picking in places like Tinaberries farm in Bundaberg. Photo: Paul Donaldson / NewsMail
BACKPACKER TAX: Visa workers could be deterred from picking in places like Tinaberries farm in Bundaberg. Photo: Paul Donaldson / NewsMail Paul Donaldson BUN050916TAX8

Govt already acting on backpacker treatment issue: Pitt

MEMBER for Hinkler Keith Pitt says the findings in the Fair Work Ombudsman report regarding backpacker treatment by dodgy employers are nothing new and the Coalition is already implementing measures to tackle the issue.

The report found almost $200,000 in unpaid wages and entitlements was recovered by the Fair Work Ombudsman for 103 workers in the Wide Bay region in 2015-16.

Withholding passports, paying for tools the business was supposed to provide, and working for free in exchange for providing evidence that they had fulfilled their visa requirements, were among the findings.

"There have been countless reports and inquiries to examine this issue over the years and they all say the same thing; we need to see more action, less words," Mr Pitt said.

"Taskforce Cadena - a multi-jurisdictional taskforce - was established in June last year and is getting real results."

Mr Pitt said among measures implemented were an additional $20 million to broaden the capabilities of the Fair Work Ombudsman and an increase in penalties for employers who underpaid workers and failed to keep proper employment records.

"The Working Holiday Maker reform package includes a provision for employers of working holiday makers to register with the ATO to generate more accurate data and boost integrity of the scheme," Mr Pitt said.

"Working holiday makers will be made aware of registered employers via the publication of a list on the ABN Lookup.

"I believe that this combination of measures will ensure that workers - regardless of their nationality - are receiving the rights and obligations they are entitled to while they are working in Australia."


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