Labor acts to amend proposed "green army" legislation

FEDERAL Labor has moved to prevent workers in the Coalition's proposed "green army" being left on low pay and without health and safety protections under the program.

The legislation for the green army, which aims to create a workforce up to 15,000 by 2018 to work on conservation projects, was debated in parliament on Tuesday.

Those laws would likely leave trainee participants in the program on a training wage about half the minimum wage, and would exempt all such workers from all other Commonwealth laws.

But Labor's environment spokesman Mark Butler introduced an amendment to prevent that happening on Tuesday, noting the bill was "deeply flawed in its design".

While the amendment was likely to get voted down in the House, it will likely face the Labor-Greens block should it reach the Senate without amendment.

However, Labor has signalled it was willing to negotiate on the proposal, as the Opposition supports the overall initiative, but not the removal of workers' protections.

Specifically, Mr Butler said during previous debate he wanted more information on how the bill would affect the participants, calling on the government not to exempt trainees from standard workplace protections.

A spokesman for Environment Minister Greg Hunt has previously said service providers would need to develop risk plans for each project, but would not detail why the exemptions were needed.

Debate on the legislation was adjourned until late on Tuesday.


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