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New Dedicated Offshore Visa To Be Created In Australia

01 Jun 2013


Immigration News

The Australian government is to extend the Migration Act to Australia’s offshore resources industry to bring it under Australian law and creating a new offshore visa. Immigration and Citizenship Minister Brendan O’Connor said proposed amendments would mean that all of the offshore industry and employers including those located in the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Continental Shelf will be subject to visa regulations.

The changes follow the recommendation of the Migration Maritime Taskforce after a court case last year found that 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. ‘This legislation makes sense. The resources in question are governed by Australian laws and the jobs should be too,’ said O’Connor.

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,’ explained O’Connor.

Quote from AustraliaForum.com : “Working in the oil and gas industry – particularly offshore – is extremely well paid, but something you do only for a short time. It is true that the industry does pay well, especially given the offshore work pattern of two weeks on and two or three weeks off, although the differential with other industries is not as large as you might think.”

However, the proposals have been criticised by the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) which it described as an unnecessary blow to an industry already suffering the world’s highest costs, most restrictive red tape and lowest productivity. ‘We are already seeing key resource projects scaled back or delayed and this move will add to the increasing cost and difficulty of doing business in Australia,’ said AMMA executive director, industry Scott Barklamb.

The Australian government needs to be in the business of doing more to attract and retain investment in this country, not discouraging investment. This week international resource industry leaders told our government that Australia needs to improve the operating environment and incentives to bring mega-investments to this country,’ he explained.

He also pointed out that recently subsea construction company Allseas Australia said that its vessels create six Australian jobs for each international crew member. ‘These specialist vessels need the flexibility to be able to enter and exit Australian waters for short time periods and in doing so they regularly employ hundreds of Australian workers,’ said Barklamb. ‘For example, the Allseas’ vessel Lorelay has just 25 non-Australian crew members who are required to operate the ship right around the world. Once it enters Australian waters, up to 150 Australian workers are employed onboard to complete the vast majority of tasks,’ he explained.

‘Tying these vessels up in red tape through a manipulation of our migration laws leaves nothing to gain for anyone other than the MUA. This move is also inconsistent with Australia’s international obligations and it doesn’t reflect the global nature of resource industry operations. Our policy makers need to consider the reputational damage to Australia as a modern and flexible place to do business. We cannot afford to be the only country in the world that makes it so difficult and expensive for these foreign vessels to complete vital short term contracts,’ he added.

Source: http://www.australiaforum.com/information/jobs/new-dedicated-offshore-visa-to-be-created-in-australia.html


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