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Closing the Loopholes Bill puts farmer safety and food security at risk

Leader of The Nationals David Littleproud said new Closing the Loopholes legislation could
put farmer safety and biosecurity at risk by giving unions the right to enter farms
unannounced.
Mr Littleproud said the changes not only risked intruding on privacy and the personal safety
of farmers, but also had possible animal welfare implications.
Mr Littleproud said the legislation could embolden unions with additional power to talk to
workers and conduct snap inspections of pay records or properties without notice.
“There are fears among industry that these changes give unions enhanced rights to enter
farms unannounced, which is mind boggling and defies common sense,” Mr Littleproud said.
“The farm is often the family home for many Australians. This is about safety and privacy, as
well as animal welfare and biosecurity risk.
“Any unintended consequences leading to an outbreak of a disease will cause lower food
supply and higher food prices – this is the last thing Australian families need in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.”
Organic poultry farmer Sarah Sterns, who has 6000 chickens on her Kilkivan-based farm,
said her smaller, family farm was very much also a private property.
“We live and work on the same premise so that would be a huge risk to our privacy,” Sarah
said.
“I am not comfortable with the idea at all. Because we are organic and free range, we
cannot afford to have people on our farm, who are unfamiliar with the risk of viruses
spreading.
“Being organic, we can’t use antibiotics or drugs so it would have an enormous impact if
that happened, it would wipe out the farm.”
Mr Littleproud added Labor’s new definition of ‘casual’ could also create too much risk for
farmers.
“Industry is also deeply concerned the changes could mean that an employee will only be
‘casual’ if there’s no ‘firm advanced commitment to continuing and indefinite work’,
founded on mutual understanding, which is difficult when it comes to agriculture,” Mr
Littleproud said.
“A casual employee will also have the right to convert to permanent employment after six
months of employment, if the employee believes their status no longer meets the definition
of ‘casual’. In other words, the casual employee, not the employer, gets to choose their own
employment status.
“Labor is making it hard for farmers, but it’s families who will pay for it at the checkout.”

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