Bill's Media Releases


A Shorten Labor Government will put in place a suite of reforms to protect rights at work by cracking down on unscrupulous employers who are willing to exploit workers.

Recent examples of clear and widespread worker exploitation at notable companies have been met by silence and inaction from Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberals, despite continuous calls from Labor for action to protect working people and jobs. 

While the Liberals have spent all their energy playing politics with their $80 million royal commission, they have done absolutely nothing about the numerous examples of workers being blatantly exploited at work.

In 2015 we saw too many instances of workers’ rights trampled, not just by fly-by-night operations, but by household names:

These high profile examples are just the tip of the iceberg. In 2014-15 the Fair Work Ombudsman recovered $22.3 million in back pay for over 11,000 workers.

Labor's Fair Work Taskforce have held meetings with workers throughout the country who have provided evidence of the breadth of this problem.

Malcolm Turnbull talks about better conditions for workers – but as with everything else, he says one thing and does something completely different.

As the Liberals refuse to act, Labor will.

More must be done to protect these workers from exploitation.

A Shorten Labor Government will stand up for middle and working-class families. Labor will put people first, strengthening and protecting workers’ rights at work by:

    • Cracking down on the underpayment of workers, with significantly increased penalties for employers who deliberately and systemically avoid paying their employees properly
    • Ramping up protections for workers from sham contracting, by strengthening legal protections for a worker’s entitlements and increasing penalties
    • Giving the Fair Work Ombudsman more power to pursue employers who liquidate their companies in order to avoid paying the money they owe their workers
    • Introducing reforms to ensure that temporary overseas workers are not being exploited and underpaid and that there is a level playing field for all workers in Australia

We will consult employers and their representatives, workers and unions on the scale of the increase to penalties to ensure there is an appropriate deterrent in place to protect workers from unscrupulous employers.

Labor’s package of reforms builds on our strong record of protecting wages and conditions and cracking down on worker exploitation. That is because only Labor understands that fairness at work helps to drive a more productive, competitive and prosperous economy.

Rather than engage in the Liberal Party’s race to the bottom on wages and conditions, Labor will invest in the high-skilled, high-wage, good jobs of the future.

Only Labor can be trusted to stand up for the wages and conditions of workers in Australia, and only Labor will protect Australian families from Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals’ plan for a 15 per cent GST on everything and attacks on penalty rates.

The full details of Labor’s plan to protect workers from exploitation can be found here: