Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash

Shadow Attorney-General

Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations

Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

Senator for Western Australia


30 MAY 2023


Labor Minister Tony Burke’s own Department, which is overseeing the consultation process on radical new industrial relations laws which will undermine the labour hire industry, employs over 900 contractors but pays them at different rates to public servants.

When questioned by Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Senator Michaelia Cash today during Senate Estimates hearings the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations revealed that 935 or more than one in four of its workers were contractors.

Department Secretary Natalie James confirmed that the Department used labour hire companies to employ contractors.

A Departmental official gave the example that there are contractors in the Department’s call centre being paid differently to public servants doing the same job.

The Department said the labour hire rate was $58 an hour on average while the APS employees were paid in the “high $30s” on average. The department said the $58 rate was paid to the labour hire company – they could not say how much the actual labour hire worker was paid.

Ms James could not guarantee that the Government’s upcoming so-called “Same Jobs, Same Pay” legislation would apply to the public service.

Senator Cash said: “It is extraordinary that the Minister’s own Department is not leading by example.’’

“Mr Burke wants to impose new laws on the private sector but his own Department can’t even say if they will apply to themselves,’’ she said

“Certainly, at the moment his own Department is not working by the principles that he espouses,’’ Senator Cash said.

“They don’t pay contractors the same as public servants. The hypocrisy of this Minister knows no bounds,’’ she said.