The Maritime Union of Australia has warned the Northern Territory Government it will face serious workplace safety and environmental problems if it allows companies working on the $32 billion Inpex development to shirk their commitment to first-rate marine skills.
This is particularly alarming as it is being echoed in resource projects in Western Australia with resource company Woodside.
Companies bidding for work on new Territory projects are undermining the marine qualifications needed to work on offshore vessels by attempting to have inferior foreign certificates of competency considered equivalent to Australian training.
The MUA understands that the NT Government has received these applications from companies working on the Inpex project, and has called on the Government to soundly reject them.
“The MUA is alarmed at moves to degrade the skills base of the Northern Territory economy, particularly during such a critical stage of industrial development,” MUA National Assistant Secretary Ian Bray said.
“Inpex is a highly complex project, and undermining the skill levels of the workforce delivering it could have catastrophic outcomes for workplace safety and the environment.
“The NT Government and Marine Regulator need to stand with the union and say no to the reduction of skills on these projects.”
Australian maritime skills qualifications are amongst the best in the world and ensure that the safety of crew and the natural environment are protected.
But the MUA is concerned skills loopholes are emerging as the Australian Maritime Safety Regulator (AMSA) is not properly monitoring the skills and safety aboard offshore projects and therefore setting the benchmark for state and territory regulators to follow suit.
In addition, there is the concern that if foreign competencies are recognised, jobs on the Inpex development could go to workers from overseas – rather than local workers.
As recently as last week, the MUA NT Branch wrote to the Government to inform them of the breaches that were occurring. The Union has received no response.
“The NT Government needs to stand up against this nonsense,” Mr Bray said.
“INPEX and the associated harbour projects must be regulated to the highest possible standards, and employ workers who have high-level marine qualifications.
“Otherwise there will be drastic consequences for workplace safety and the environment.”