Abbott Government Shows True Colours on Foreign Labour

The Abbott Government has thumbed its nose at the Senate as part of its ideological crusade to bring in foreign workers to undermine Australian jobs in the offshore oil and gas sector. For this reason we need you to continue supporting our campaign by signing this petition.

The Senate on Wednesday voted to disallow Government regulations which determined the type of visas under which workers could be employed in the offshore oil and gas sector.

The main sticking point was the use of the Maritime Crew (subclass 988) Visa, which requires no labour market testing and can be used to hire foreign workers on greatly reduced pay and conditions compared to their Australian counterparts.

All maritime unions – the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), The Australian Maritime Officers Union (AMOU) and Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers (AIMPE) – opposed the Government’s regulations.

They proposed a solution whereby the Government reintroduce a regulation which mentioned the other two types of visa – the 457 and 400 – without the MCV.

But instead of listening and working co-operatively, the Government instead chose to wind back the clock by announcing on Thursday it would use a 'legislative instrument' which eliminated the need for a visa for those on board ships and other craft not tethered to the Australian seabed.

Maritime Union of Australia National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said the move sets a dangerous precedent which could be subject to legal challenge.

"The MUA has sought legal advice but it appears the Abbott Government is treating this week’s Senate decision with disdain by trying to ride roughshod over existing legislation which protects the rights of Australian maritime workers to work in their own country,” Mr Crumlin said.

“The ideological warriors in the Abbott Government are seeking to take out an entire Australian industry. At face value, they appear to have taken us back to the time before the Gillard Government fixed a legislative loophole which allowed foreign workers to be employed on reduced pay and conditions.

“This is cynical government at its best. If you don’t like the decision of the Australian Senate, go and find another way to rob the Parliament of its authority and the Australian people of their own jobs and resources.

“The Senate made the right decision on Wednesday in protecting Australian jobs by blocking the Abbott Government’s attempts to flood the offshore oil and gas sector with cheap foreign labour.”

The MUA has now renewed its petition, which has so far gathered nearly 13,000 signatures. It calls on Senators to:

(a) vote against the Migration Amendment (Offshore Resources Activity) Repeal Bill 2014; and
(b) act to prevent the Federal Government from continuing to issue Maritime Crew (subclass 988) visas to foreign workers for the purposes of working in Australia’s offshore oil and gas industry.

“The Australian people know that opening the back door to cheap foreign labour isn’t the answer. We need to maintain our maritime skills base and ensure the viability of Australian jobs in the offshore sector,” Mr Crumlin said.