The Maritime Union of Australia today welcomed the introduction of a critical fix to a gap in the Migration Act.
“The Migration Amendment (Offshore Resources Activity) bill introduced by Minister O’Connor today provides the certainty that the entire community, from the workforce to resource owners and operators and contractors has been seeking for a long time,” said Paddy Crumlin, the MUA’s National Secretary.
The bill closes a gap in the Migration Act that was exposed in a Federal Court Judgement in the Allseas case in 2012. The gap means that the Australian Government is currently unable to regulate employment and visa conditions for workers on nearly all projects in the offshore oil and gas industry that are located outside the Migration Zone. This bill will deem those workers to be inside the Migration Zone.
Crumlin praised the Government and, in particular, Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor, and his predecessor, MP Chris Bowen, for delivering a long-awaited solution.
“This legislative solution creates a level playing field so that all workers, irrespective of origin, can now have their migration status regulated and hence their employment standards regulated,” said Crumlin. “The bill will end the exploitation of temporary guest workers in the offshore oil and gas industry, and will ensure that employment, safety, training and occupational licensing requirements can be brought up to Australian legal and industrial standards.”
Crumlin also noted that the new regime would also have important national security benefits for Australia by ensuring that the Government has the tools to monitor non-nationals working on our critical resource installations.
[For information of our readers, below is the Minister's statement on the bill]
Thursday 30 May 2013
GOVERNMENT SHORES UP MORE AUSSIE JOBS
The Gillard government took another step to protect Australian jobs, by moving to extend the application of the migration zone to Australia’s offshore resources industry.
Immigration and Citizenship Minister Brendan O’Connor said proposed amendments to the Migration Act would enable all Australian industry and employers to be regulated under Australian law, including those located in the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Continental Shelf.
The changes follow the recommendation of the Migration Maritime Taskforce, established after the Allseas court case in May 2012. The court found the existing migration zone did not extend to a vessel engaged in laying pipeline on the seabed, meaning no work visa was required for overseas workers on board such vessels.
“The Gillard Government is proud to have delivered 900,000 more jobs, more apprenticeships and lower unemployment, while maintaining economic growth,” Mr O’Connor said.
“With the changes introduced today even more Australian jobs will be protected.
“This legislation makes sense – the resources in question are governed by Australian laws and the jobs should be too.”
The amendments, if passed by Parliament, would come into effect in 2014, to allow time to consult with industry, unions and other stakeholders on the terms of a dedicated new visa for offshore resource industry workers from overseas.
“The new visa for offshore resources workers will give industry the flexibility it needs while ensuring that Australian working conditions are not undercut,” Mr O’Connor said.