After dozens of high-profile wage theft scandals on their watch the Liberals have finally acknowledged there is a problem – but still aren’t doing enough to fix it.

Nearly five years after the 7-11 scandal exposed the true extent of wage exploitation the time for delay is over.

We need tougher penalties now to deter and punish employers who do the wrong thing by their workers. But even if Scott Morrison follows through on his belated commitment to introduce tougher penalties, it won’t fix the underlying problems.

For the last six years the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government’s workplace policies have focused exclusively on attacking unions – the organisations that protect workers from wage theft.

Right now the Government has legislation before the Parliament that aims to diminish unions, wrap them in red tape and make it harder for them to fight for workers’ rights.

If the Government really wanted to help combat wage theft they would stop these attacks.

The Government has also failed to explain how it will enforce any new penalties. There’s no use having tougher penalties if the Fair Work Ombudsman does not have the necessary resources they need to enforce them.

The Government is also failing to make it easier for dudded workers to recover stolen wages. Workers shouldn’t be forced to wait years to be paid properly – which is why Labor proposed a small claims tribunal to ensure workers get their entitlements quickly.

Christian Porter needs to decide whether he wants to grandstand or whether he wants actually Australians to be paid properly.


Tony Burke