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The Pom Queen

New Migrant Visa Scheme

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The Federal Government's new migrant visa scheme has come under fire as more details emerge about how it will work.

Australia's resources sector has countless multi-billion-dollar projects looming, but only a fraction of the workforce needed to build them.

More than 33,000 extra workers are needed in the next 18 months in Western Australia alone.

The Immigration Department says temporary visas under the new Enterprise Migration Agreements (EMA) for semi-skilled overseas workers are the answer.

But Dave Noonan, from the construction and mining union CFMEU, is worried the new scheme will overlook local workers. "We've got a situation where there are a number of large redundancies in the manufacturing industry, but also activities in commercial city construction are quite low at the moment," he said. "We would have thought that it was important to ensure that suitably skilled local workers are offered employment before employers are entitled to bring in large numbers of guest workers from overseas."


Peter Speldewinde from the Immigration Department says the new scheme is not about locking out local workers. "The pricing schedules around the salaries that need to be paid to a worker coming to Australia under the EMA would make them relatively more expensive than the equivalent Australian worker," he said. "So the incentive is there for companies to in fact employ or seek to employ Australians first."


Bruce Campbell-Fraser, from Western Australia's Chamber of Mines and Energy, says the scheme seems to have too much red tape. "We're just a bit concerned that they're a bit prescriptive around some areas, predominantly around the consultation process, the need for workforce development plans, and highly prescriptive training plans," he said. "So we're just working our way through how that's going to be taken up, and I suppose as these employers start putting their plans in place and recruiting a workforce, we'll see whether or not people move down the Enterprise Migration Agreement path or use existing skilled migration programs like 457 visas."


But the Immigration Department insists the EMA is a simplified system. "The terms and conditions which govern the employment of workers for the entire project are agreed under the EMA framework," Mr Speldewinde said. "So there's only one set of negotiations. What that means is, for particularly the smaller sub-contractors, a lot of the drudgery and a lot of the leg work is done for them."


The temporary visas will only be issued for workers employed on larger projects worth $2 billion or more that need more than 1,500 staff.


But the CFMEU says there are concerns overseas workers will fill jobs that apprentices are currently performing in the larger companies. "Many of these projects are located in regional Australia in areas which have got entrenched high levels of youth unemployment and high levels of Indigenous unemployment," Mr Noonan said. "We need to start to see a situation where the Government requires of those employers that they actually invest in training young Australians and don't just run overseas to deal with real or perceived skills shortages."

If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.

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The DIAC's heading for a hole with this policy. Locals come first anywhere in the world.


Vetassess:Feb'09 IELTS: Mar'09 SA SS(176): Sep'10

Visa application: Oct'10 CO: May'11 MEDS & PCC: Oct'12 VISA Grant: 5th Feb 2013:jiggy:



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