Resource Sector Requirement Led To Ease Of Australian Immigration Rules

20 May 2011


The Australian government is under pressure to increase its skilled migration target figures in order to avoid key areas of the economy, particularly the booming resources industry slipping into contraction through a lack of skilled immigration.

The Business Council of Australia (BCA) CEO Jennifer Westacott said “We believe at least two-thirds of the program should be skills-based so that people who come into the country have the skills we need for a stronger, increasingly diverse economy.”

Ms Westacott said that the government needed to “make greater use of temporary migration visas, including the 457 visa program, and the proposed new enterprise migration program for large investment projects.”

Enterprise Migration Agreements (EMAs) will allow large resource projects to hire foreign workers for vacancies that cannot be filled from the local workforce.

In view of the same, Immigration Minister, Chris Brown said, "This new initiative will streamline negotiation arrangements for access to overseas workers and guarantee faster processing times for visa applications."  

"EMAs will be a custom-designed, project-wide migration arrangement uniquely suited to the resources sector, ensuring skills shortages do not create constraints on major projects and jeopardise Australian jobs," he added.

Australia is recovering from the financial crisis of 2008 faster than many developed nations and has a low unemployment rate hovering around 5 percent. Resources sector industries such as the mining industry are having a difficult time finding workers.

"With $380 billion of investment in the pipeline for resources projects, we are approaching a critical juncture in the construction phases of a number of major projects. Access to overseas labour will ensure the peak workforce needs of these projects are met, realising the economic and employment benefits of the projects," Bowen noted.

Reducing processing times for visa applications is a top priority to ensure that businesses can get the help they need.

"While processing times for 457 visas have reduced by 30 per cent over the past five years, the government will establish a new processing centre in Brisbane and aims to reduce processing times even further," Bowen said.

According to Bowen, the goal is to reduce the median wait time to ten days for completed visa applications.


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