Green light given to first Enterprise Migration Agreement

Date: May 31, 2012

The go-ahead has been given by the Australian government to its inaugural Enterprise Migration Agreement (EMA), which has been granted to a new project in Western Australia.

The iron ore mining Roy Hill project in the Pilbara region will benefit from the agreement, which could be the first of many signed off by the government.

Minister for immigration and citizenship Chris Bowen explained that this was an important milestone in meeting critical skills shortages in the resources sector.

He indicated that temporary workers are essential to the strength of the economy - meaning that migration lawyers may see increased business from those arriving in the country through an EMA.

The agreements have been designed to give the resources sector a helping hand by making sure that skills shortages do not negatively impact the industry by creating constraints on major projects.

Although the government makes finding Australians for jobs its priority, it recognises that there are times when overseas assistance is necessary.

Mr Bowen continued: "With more than 8,000 workers required during the construction phase of the Roy Hill project, there simply aren't enough people in the local workforce to get the job done."

Through the EMA, not only will foreign workers be attracted to Roy Hill, but 2,000 training places will be made available to Australians.

"This includes places for more than 200 Australian apprentices and trainees, as well as preparing over 100 Indigenous Australians to work in the construction industry," the immigration minister announced.

Under the program, the government will ensure that all visa holders are aware of their rights in the workplace, which is also something that migration lawyers will be able to offer expert advice on.

Visa holders need to make sure they undergo a specific induction program, as well as have access to a range of information on how to ensure their working terms are legal.

Although the scheme is the first of its kind, it is hoped that it will pave the way for future projects to follow suit to bring the greatest benefits to the resources sector.

Mr Bowen even indicated that the EMAs have been effective at cutting the red tape may organisations face when they need the input of foreign workers, which could bring great economic advantages.

At present, EMAs are available to resources projects with a capital expenditure of more than $2 billion and a peak workforce of more than 1,500 workers.