Tamworth Mayor Punishes Exploited Workers To Cover His Own Tracks

The AMIEU is today calling on Col Murray, the Mayor of Tamworth Regional Council, to step forward and take responsibility for the network of exploitation and intimidation which he has allowed to grow under his watch.

In the wake of the AMIEU’s explosive revelations about the black market of exploited labour happening in Tamworth, Mayor Col Murray has acted to shut down the share houses, thereby punishing the victims of the exploitation scheme even further.

These backpackers are already subject to intimidation, humiliation, extortion and sexual harassment. Now Mr. Murray is adding homelessness to that list.

“The AMIEU report highlighted a systemic network of exploitation where backpackers are being churned over, humiliated and harassed,” said AMIEU Newcastle & Northern NSW secretary Grant Courtney.

“Making these vulnerable people homeless in a foreign country is not the way to fix this issue.”

Tamworth Regional Council admitted to Fairfax Media that they have known about the illegal share houses since at least August. Clearly Mr. Murray was happy to allow this exploitation to occur. as long as nobody was reporting on it.

Now that Mr. Murray’s failures are in the public eye, the exploited backpackers are the ones to pay the price.

Fairfax Media are reporting that Mr. Murray has ordered the closure of up to 12 houses – houses which are only being used illegally in the first place because Mr. Murray failed to curtail the operations of prolific local labour hire agents like David Gao.

The AMIEU has seen social media posts from David Gao and also from local ‘property baron’ Frank Lin in the wake of our report, warning their migrant tenants not to talk to the police, the union, journalists or investigators.

The Tamworth Regional Council has a record of working closely with big meat processors. Under Mr. Murray’s watch they have waived tens of thousands of dollars in fines, sold their own personal livestock for processing, and ignored growing calls by Tamworth youth for help finding employment.

Now Mr. Murray wants the ratepayers to believe he can fix the problem with a few house inspections? The rot runs much deeper than that.

“The AMIEU demands that Mr. Murray take responsibility for the exploitation that occurred under his watch,” added Grant Courtney. “He must detail what he knew and when he knew it.”

“Mr. Murray must come clean to the Tamworth ratepayers about his knowledge of dodgy labour hire agencies. What other arrangements does Mr. Murray know about with other large companies operating in the area?”

“Mr. Murray clearly is so keen to cozy up to major meat companies that he has no idea how to fix the out-of-control exploitation and youth unemployment in his own backyard.”

“Tamworth ratepayers deserve representatives who will stand up to big business, stand up for exploited workers, and stand up for local jobs.”

More information:

Grant Courtney
AMIEU Newcastle & Northern NSW
(02) 4929 5496