Greensparty Workplace Relations spokesman and deputy leader Adam Bandt, whose rising inflection is considered in Marxist circles to be representative of the class struggle, has been busted in a dodgy unpaid employment scheme in his own electorate office.
Ironically, Bandt is a former labour relations lawyer who has boasted of representing trade unions when briefly employed at law firm Slater & Gordon. He left the firm to complete a Doctorate of Philosophy in Soviet jurisprudence, as you do.
It’s not the first time Bandt’s commitment to the proletariat has been questioned with claims he betrayed coal-workers he had previously represented at the law firm, falsely claiming at an eco-rally the CFMEU had surveyed them indicating they were essentially all happy to give up their jobs and work in “renewable energy.” The union denounced his claim as deceitful and he has never adequately explained himself.
Parliamentary sources familiar with Adam Bandt’s office head-count suggest he has had as many as 9 registered volunteers at any one time registered with parliamentary authorities for the purposes of allocating aph.gov.au email addresses.
Sources told VEXNEWS that previous Bandt advertisements made it clear that at least 10 hours a week unpaid work was expected of the ‘interns’ with several accruing hundreds of hours, representing potentially many thousands of dollars in unpaid salaries and entitlements.
“It is a ticking time-bomb of liability for taxpayers,” one explained, worried that unpaid and exploited Bandt ‘interns’ could leave taxpayers vulnerable to expensive litigation and compensation cases.
Interns are not necessarily illegal, they are common enough in Australian workplaces in certain circumstances, but employment law experts consulted by VEXNEWS have explained that rules must be followed:
It may be that this type of internship fits the definition of a ‘vocational placement’ under the Fair Work Act 2009 (see definition in section 12 of the Act). But, on my initial reading, there are serious questions that arise. Section 12 of the Act states:
‘vocational placement means a placement that is:
(a) undertaken with an employer for which a person is not entitled to be paid any remuneration; and
(b) undertaken as a requirement of an education or training course; and
(c) authorised under a law or an administrative arrangement of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory.’
Bandt’s advertisement makes it clear that the ‘intern’ would be involved in a range of work that would normally be performed by paid electorate office staff:
Communications and media support eg research and analysis, web content, drafting articles.
Constituent Liaison eg responding to constituent concerns, researching advocacy options.
Community Outreach eg making contact with Melbourne community groups, organising meetings.
Community Organising eg supporting community campaigns on issues of concern to constituents.
Policy and Research eg researching various policy areas, drafting speaking notes
Indeed, those duties cover practically all of the duties of electorate officers, allowing well-connected Greensparty hacks like failed Greens preselection candidate Rose Iser and former student Marxist and Bandt spin-doctor Damien Lawson plenty of time for intriguing, latte sipping and fighting preselection contests against apostate state party leader (and Bandt power rival) Greg Barber.
Our legal eagle advises:
If the internship does not meet all of these requirements, it may be that these ‘interns’ are employees and are entitled to the relevant pay, entitlements and conditions etc. While this can be a grey area, at no point in Bandt’s advertisement does it require that the internship be ‘undertaken as a requirement of an education or training course’ as is required by law.
Clearly, this (the formal education and training requirement) is an element of the definition under the Act.
Universities have official parliamentary internship programs that are formal units of study, whereas these internships are not suggested to be a part of any such program.
In other words, by attempting to farm out much of his notoriously lazy and unresponsive electorate officers’ work to “interns,” the Greensparty MP could be exposing the Commonwealth to lawsuits from these unpaid staff to the extent they have performed work duties outside an officially recognised education programme.
There are plenty of official programmes that are part of the studies of a number of University students, political sources told VEXNEWS they include:
A number of Australian MPs, Universities and unions run internship and traineeship programs aimed at young people. They can be an important pathway in to paid work and a career in advocacy and public policy.
Examples of internship programs include:
■ The Australian National Internship Program, a program overseen by the ANU
They point out:
It is the norm for these internships to be paid, or in the case of programs run by Universities, for participants to receive academic credit.
In Bandt’s case, they are neither paid nor are the interns part of any education programme for which they could receive credit.
The abuse of interns is a big issue in Australian workplaces, with gullible and vulnerable interns being debased and abused by cunning employers keen to rely on the usually young victims as a source of free labour.
The Fair Work Ombudsman is currently investigating the issues and VEXNEWS understands may have already received complaints in relation to Bandt’s conduct.
Our expert concludes:
From my understanding, because the legislation is still fairly new, case law on this issue is scant. But arguments could be made that the advertised internship is a misrepresentation of what should be an employment relationship.
The (Bandt) internship does not appear to be merely ‘observational’ and an argument could be made that Bandt is seeking these ‘interns’ to primarily assist in the outputs and productivity of his office (see the duties listed in the advertisement).
The advertisement blatantly states that ‘no employment positions are on offer’. This is a dubious statement, because whether a contract of employment has been entered into will depend on the entire nature of the relationship and not simply the terminology used by a faux employer.