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July 17, 2017

Last week I saw firsthand the shocking impact of insecure work on mining communities throughout Central Queensland.

Having spoken to workers, families and business owners in Tieri, Middlemount, Moranbah and Glenden, the explosion of casualisation and labour hire isn’t just an issue. It’s a crisis.

The stories coming out of these communities are shocking.

I heard stories of miners working as casuals for so many years that they qualified for long service leave, but were still denied the safety of permanent employment and the rights that accompany it.

I heard of miners, employed as casuals, who are unable to accompany their children for much needed medical treatment, because they can't afford to miss a day of pay.

I heard of others coming to work sick, spreading illness among their colleagues, because they don't get sick pay and are forced to work, in order to get paid.

I heard of permanent workers getting retrenched, allegedly because there was not enough work for them, only to be replaced the same day by casuals and labour hire on worse pay and conditions.

I spoke to permanent workers who are now working in predominantly casualised teams, who fear the time they will see their permanent rights stripped away from them too.

Central Queensland is struggling as these towns lose families and businesses, as work becomes more and more insecure.

The Palaszczuk Government is making strides to combat this, recently introducing legislation that will crack down on labour hire companies that exploit their workers.

We know that more needs to be done at a Federal level to support that Palaszczuk Government. That’s why Federal Labor will introduce a national licensing scheme to regulate labour hire when in Government.

We are also exploring the legal definition of “casual”, to stop the exploitation of workers who by any objective measure are permanents, and will investigate solutions to companies casualising their entire workforce.

Unfortunately we are hearing nothing from the Federal LNP Government and the LNP's Central Queensland MPs about ways to combat this issue.

Judging by the small amount of time that Michelle Landry, Ken O’Dowd and George Christensen have spent with Central Queensland miners, you’d think they’d forgotten that they are their constituents.

Central Queensland workers need strong representatives that are going to fight to make sure their jobs are secure.

If the LNP isn’t prepared to do it, than the Labor Party will.