$295k price tag for High Court battle over casuals' backpay
The Attorney-General's decision to intervene in a High Court battle over casuals' backpay is expected to cost taxpayers $295,860.
Senator Michaelia Cash revealed the figure in response to a question in the Senate, which asked the expected total legal fees associated with Christian Porter's decision to intervene in the High Court case WorkPac v Rossato.
In May last year, the full Federal Court rejected the bid from labour hire firm WorkPac to have a former employee, Robert Rossato, declared a casual employee and not entitled to paid leave.
The ruling meant workers on regular casual shifts would be entitled to seek paid leave.
Attorney-General Christian Porter applied to intervene in the case after the company appealed to the High Court to clarify what casuals should be paid and how offset arrangements should work.
Queensland Labor Senator Murray Watt said it was "unbelievable" the federal government was using taxpayer funds to help a labour hire company.
"We've seen an explosion of casualisation in mining and other industries under this government," Mr Watt said.
"It's no wonder, when they're prepared to go to the High Court to defend it.
"Too many miners in the region are treated as 'permanent casuals', with worse pay and conditions, even after casual loadings are included.
"The Morrison Government must explain why it is determined to waste taxpayer money on this crusade, which will leave workers in Central Queensland worse off."
Dawson MP George Christensen said the Morrison Liberal National Government had made it law that casual workers doing de facto full-time work would have the right to convert to permanent work after six months.
"This is what many local mineworkers wanted," Mr Christensen said.
"The Rossato case is about different matters and could cripple many local businesses in the Mackay region, because of backpay requirements when these businesses were doing the right thing at the time.
"Labor is trying to pull the wool over people's eyes with this claim they will have workers on the same pay rate.
"How is that going to work when people are paid more for their length of service, for their experience or for the role that they are working in?
"Ultimately, we know Labor does not support the coal industry or the workers whose jobs rely on that industry."