Businesses that employ backpackers will be able to keep the details secret under legislation which Labor says could leave workers vulnerable to exploitation.
A bill ensuring employers of working holiday-makers don’t have to release registration information publicly cleared parliament last Wednesday, with Centre Alliance’s two senators delivering the government victory.
Labor frontbencher Doug Cameron said keeping the information secret would wind back an important transparency measure included in the government’s controversial backpacker tax package.
‘‘I am disgusted that the Coalition has allowed this to come forward to exploit workers just because they’ve done another grubby deal to save their own necks,’’ Senator Cameron told parliament.
One of the bill’s key supporters, crossbench senator David Leyonhjelm, said it would stop the Australian Workers’ Union from harassing farmers.
‘‘They have enough problems with droughts, floods and even needles in strawberries without Senator Cameron’s bovver boy mates knocking on their door,’’ Senator Leyonhjelm said.
Independents Derryn Hinch and Tim Storer were against the bill, but the government was able to secure enough crossbench support without their votes.
Senator Hinch remembered the murder of English traveller Mia Ayliffe-Chung, who died while she was working in Queensland, saying backpackers needed more protections.
He said some workers were being exploited by some unscrupulous bosses.
‘‘I’ve heard of girls being told they must have sexual relations with the employer if they want him to sign off on the 88 days — and that is disgusting,’’ Senator Hinch said.
In late 2016, the Coalition teamed up with the Greens to secure a 15 per cent income tax rate on working holiday makers.
Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson said the public register was critical to the backpacker tax package.
‘‘This bloody register ... was part of the deal we did with the government when we passed the backpacker legislation,’’ he said.