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Farmers: more needs to be done to protect workers

5 May 2015

The Australian agriculture sector is united in its commitment to the safety and fair treatment of workers.

Last night’s ABC Four Corners story highlights the need to do more to rid the agriculture sector of rogue operators who wilfully ignore Australian laws and take advantage of vulnerable migrant workers.

Brent Finlay, President of the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), said that the mistreatment of workers has no place on Australian farms.

“Migrant workers are essential to the agriculture sector. Without them, there would be a chronic labour shortage at peak harvest times of the year,” Mr Finlay said.

“All employees have the right to feel safe and to be treated fairly at work – wherever they are – on the farm, in the packing shed, in the warehouse or at the shop.

“While most employers do the right thing, not all do. This puts the reputation of the whole farming community at risk.

“Individuals who act outside the law drag the rest of the industry down. There are strong laws in place to prevent this kind of activity, and we need to make sure they are effective on the ground.

The NFF is working to lift employment standards in the sector through the development of a Best Practice Scheme for Agricultural Employment.

“All farmers have a responsibility to make good choices about their employment practices and the contractors they use. And it’s not just farmers, this is a whole of supply chain issue.

“Our scheme will establish a framework for good farm practice in Australia. Working closely with government and other stakeholders, the aim is to lift compliance across the sector as a whole.

“We want everyone who works on an Australian farm to walk away with a positive experience,” Mr Finlay said.

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Media Enquiries: Sophie Keatinge on 02 6269 5666, 0408 448 250 or

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