Home > Abbott Government to allow maritime visa for offshore work

Abbott Government to allow maritime visa for offshore work

article image

The Abbott Government has admitted it will be difficult to repeal laws which mean offshore resource workers must have a visa, and will seek a way around the issue.

Due to the present hostility of the Senate, the government instead will try to pass another law saying that offshore workers will only need to have a maritime crew visa.

Put in place during the final days of the Gillard Government, the present laws require any foreign workers involved in offshore resource work to have a 457 visa.

The law was created to counter a Federal Court decision in 2012 which ruled that foreign workers on pipe laying vessels for the Gorgon LNG project were outside the migration zone and did not need visas.

Workers under a maritime crew visa will not enjoy the same wage benefits as a citizen worker or worker on a 457 visa. 

The West Australian reported this morning that assistant immigration minister Michaelia Cash will concede today the coalition may not be able to repeal the Labor-era Bill, which requires employers on offshore pipe-laying vessels seek to employ Australian workers first.

"I want to see visa service delivery that meets the needs of employers without overburdening them with red tape, while ensuring that migration delivers social and economic strength, prosperity and unity,” Cash said at an AMMA conference today.

Maritime Union of Australia WA secretary Christy Cain has said the move will make it harder for Australians who are prepared to relocate for work.

“How is it in the national interest for the Abbott Government to take away unemployment benefits from young Australians, tell them they need to move across the country to find work, then stack the odds against them by bringing in thousands of foreign workers,” Cain said.

“This is a move that might be in the interests of employers and their shareholders, but it certainly isn’t in the national interest.”

Cain said that a report by BIS Shrapnel and University of Sydney has confirmed that maritime wages make up less than one per cent of the cost of building projects like Gorgon.

“Even the CEO of Chevron doesn’t blame unions for cost problems on Gorgon," he said.

“AMMA have hoodwinked the Abbott Government into implementing a policy that will cost Australian jobs, while delivering no real improvements to the competitiveness of the LNG industry.” 

Newsletter sign-up

The latest products and news delivered to your inbox