International Unions Welcome Australian High Court Decision on Offshore Oil and Gas Worker Visas

The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) has welcomed a decision by Australia’s High Court to rule invalid a decision by the nation’s conservative government to exempt workers on vessels in the multi-billion dollar offshore oil and gas industry from domestic visa requirements.

The exemption, granted by the Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, in December 2015 was overturned by the High Court today following a case lodged by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and Australian Maritime Officers Union (AMOU). 

The long-running saga was thwarted first by the Australian Senate in July 2014 and then the full federal court in March 2015. Today’s decision in the High Court was unanimous. 

ITF President and MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said: “Bringing in often exploited foreign workers is a dangerous attack on the rights and safe working conditions of seafarers, regardless of their nationality.

“The ITF welcomes the decision which helps rehabilitate Australia's international reputation for adversarial and destructive attacks on the trade union movement.

“The offshore industry in any country’s territory must be the domain of the national workforce as it involves the development of that country's sovereign and public wealth.”

ITF Maritime Coordinator Jacqueline Smith said: “It is clear that the failed legislation and subsequent circumvention by the Australian government that was rejected by the High Court today was partly driven by international hydrocarbon players including Chevron and Allseas.

"This is a great victory for the protection of workers rights in the offshore industry all over the world. 

AMOU President Tim Higgs said: “The Government has hugely overreached with these tricky legislative instruments. The Minister’s attempts to bypass existing laws and give unfettered work rights to non-Australian workers was always a terrible idea.”