27/03/2014 - 15:41

Govt plans to repeal offshore migration law

27/03/2014 - 15:41

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The Abbott government has moved to repeal legislation that would effectively extend Australia's migration zone to ensure workers on offshore oil and gas projects obtain visas.

The Abbott government has moved to repeal legislation that would extend Australia's migration zone to ensure workers on offshore oil and gas projects obtain visas.

Australia's migration zone includes Australian resources installations and sea installations but does not currently extend to vessels that are not in contact with the seabed.

The Federal Court ruled in 2012 that two offshore pipe-laying vessels were not taken to be within the migration zone, which meant workers on the vessels were not required to hold visas for the work they were doing.

This prompted the Gillard government to introduce legislation in 2013 which determined that a person was considered to be part of the migration zone while they were participating in offshore resources activity in relation to that area. 

The amendments were passed by the Senate and are due to come into force at the end of June.

However the government has moved swiftly to repeal the legislation, arguing that it puts an unnecessary regulatory burden on employers and threatens to impede major offshore resources projects from going ahead.

The government today introduced the Migration Amendment (Offshore Resources Activity) Repeal Bill 2014 to the lower house.

Australian Mines and Metals Association executive director Scott Barklamb said the original legislation would put Australia at a competititive disadvantage in the offshore oil and gas sector.

“Extending Australia’s migration zone to regulate offshore activities in this way was never in our national interest," he said.

"It is completely at odds with how offshore resource projects are built and regulated anywhere in the world.”

The issue has been a major source of contention between the oil and gas industry and maritime unions, who claim the exemption from the migration zone allows offshore employers to circumvent Australian industrial regulations by paying lower rates to overseas workers.

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