Infrastructure developments may make use of Enterprise Migration Agreements

Date: Nov 07, 2011

Australia's infrastructure may soon be set to receive a massive overhaul as plans are rolled out for upgrades across the country.

A number of developments have been planned for ports, rail lines, transportation facilities and information networks - all of which will require an increase in the number of workers needed for ongoing projects.

While many of these will be focused on providing support for the growing mineral and resources industries, it is easy to see that they could also stand to benefit the rest of the economy.

One such example is the National Broadband Network - which will see a high-speed optical fibre framework laid out over the country.

According to the original workforce modelling undertaken during the planning phase, peak work times would require between 16,000 and 18,000 extra workers.

While the number of Australian workers recorded as employed in the various skilled positions listed by the plan is well above the projected amounts, the report shows that - with factors such as retirement and market demand - there will still be a substantial shortfall in the skilled workers needed.

The mining sector may also be subject to serious gaps between labour supply and demand - with the head of Woodside Petroleum Peter Coleman saying that without the significant development of infrastructure programs in certain areas, foreign investment would "simply pick up stumps and move" to more suitable areas.

One option that could deliver improved levels of skilled labour is that of Enterprise Migration Agreements (EMA).

EMAs allow firms to reach an agreement with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) that covers all of their international visa needs for a particular project - which can be drafted with the assistance of an immigration lawyer - saving duplicate documentation being submitted.

Spokeswoman for the National Broadband Network Rhonda Griffin has said that the use of the agreements had "been discussed" by the organisation but was "not under active consideration" at this time.

It has been reported that EMAs will be used to allow for the sponsorship of thousands of international workers over the next year for extra work on infrastructure developments, with the first round of skilled migrants to begin arriving in April 2012.

Speaking on the subject, the federal minister for resources and tourism Martin Ferguson said that major resource projects such as liquid natural gas developments and coal mining facilities could also stand to benefit from the use of the agreements - although it had "never been done before".

While the use of EMAs can assist by streamlining the sponsorship process, a migration lawyer can help to ensure that the documentation requires is in order before a submission is made to the DIAC.