English backpackers Kerry Tucker and Chris Odell are appalled with how they have been treated in Bundaberg.
English backpackers Kerry Tucker and Chris Odell are appalled with how they have been treated in Bundaberg. Scottie Simmonds

Backpackers turned away

TWO travellers have spoken out against “discrimination” shown by Bundaberg farmers, who they say refused to hire them unless they stayed at a hostel or went through a contractor.

English backpackers Chris Odell and Kerry Tucker said they chose to buy their own car and camp instead of paying more than double to stay in a hostel.

But their working-holiday plans were cut short when the more than 50 farms they called either said they had no work or could not help unless they were in a hostel or working for a labour contractor.

“Because we choose to save more than $200 a week by having our own accommodation and transport, they won’t hire us,” Mr Odell said.

“We are here to earn money and extend our visa, but it’s impossible to earn anything when you’re giving all your pay to a hostel.”

The pair said the lack of work had left them worse off than when they started.

“The farmers say the locals are lazy, but it’s not that at all. It’s just that they have their own car and house, aren’t staying in hostels and don’t want to give a percentage of their wage to a contractor,” Miss Tucker said.

Queensland Workplace Rights Ombudsman Don Brown said he was disappointed farms were not hiring independent travellers.

“It seems unfair to discriminate on the basis of where someone lives,” Mr Brown said.

“I’d encourage farmers and entities to rethink that practice.”

The ombudsman said while he had many complaints about Bundaberg farms, this was not one he had faced before.

“We’ve heard about this happening elsewhere, though,” he said.

“We had one farmer at the Sunshine Coast who wouldn’t let people work unless they stayed in his accommodation.”

Mr Brown will hand his findings of an earlier investigation into practices of Bundaberg hostels and farms to authorities in coming weeks.



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