Better Crop Management Pty Ltd, its director, Rodney Parker, and another man, Joseph Zappia, have been slapped with fines totalling almost a quarter of a million dollars for breaches of the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017. This follows an appearance in the Ipswich Magistrates Court on 15 September 2021.
For using an unlicenced labour hire provider to supply pickers to harvest onion crops in 2019, Better Crop was fined $120,000. Mr Parker was also convicted as a party to that offence and fined $75,000, while Mr Zappia’s penalty for providing labour hire workers without a licence was $50,000.
The court action followed a raid on a Harrisville property by Queensland’s Labour Hire Licensing Compliance Unit, who had been tipped off about farm workers being mistreated.
The Australian Border Force (ABF) supported this joint enforcement activity with Queensland’s Labour Hire Licensing Unit. Following the operational activity, the ABF also issued two Employer Sanction Infringement Notices under the Migration Act 1958 to two entities for referring and allowing illegal workers to work on the farm.
Mr Zappia did not hold a labour hire licence in Queensland, but still illegally provided labour to Better Crop by fraudulently using the licence of another provider.
In sentencing, Magistrate Leanne Scoines noted the defendants openly flouted the law, which was intended to protect vulnerable workers. Additionally, they acted fraudulently and in concert, and Better Crop used labourers who weren’t eligible to work in Australia.
The significant fines are a stark reminder that those businesses and individuals who exploit labour hire workers risk facing the full brunt of the law.
The ABF and Queensland’s Labour Hire Licensing Unit continue to work collaboratively to deter and disrupt foreign worker exploitation in Australia.
For more information on Queensland’s Labour Hire Licensing Scheme go to www.labourhire.qld.gov.au
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