News
02.07.14

ABBOTT’S AMENDMENT TO MARINE CREW VISA -988 A BIGGER THREAT TO AUSTRALIANS EMPLOYMENT THAN 457 VISA’S

On the 29 June 2014, the Abbott government amendments to the Migration Amendment (Offshore Resources Activity) Regulation 2014 were introduced, amendments are detailed below, a key change is that the maritime visa which in the past allowed foreign crew, who were engaged on non-military vessels such as international container vessels to provide them with access to shore leave in Australia. This regulation has been expanded to enable foreign crew to work on offshore resource activity; but unlike the 457 visa which has some element of market salary testing, the 988 visa provides none nor is there any requirement to pay Australian taxes.

This regulatory change has the potential to have a huge impact on our Members engaged in the offshore oil and gas sector. Furthermore the flow on effects to the registered training organisations such as the Australian Maritime College are frightening, the anecdotal evidence would suggest that at least half the students enrolled for superior certificates of competency are sponsored by the offshore oil and gas companies.

Interestingly, the amendments do not seem to marry with the maritime industry security provisions, unless we can be advised otherwise, we are somewhat lost as to how AusCheck, a Division within the Attorney-General's Department, which is responsible for coordinating the background checks of maritime industry security card [MSIC] applicants and people who are involved in the issue of MSIC will be able to assess foreign workers. Previously, holders of the maritime visa did not require MISC as they were escorted across the port terminal area and their vessel did not require MISC.

The background checking process for Australians working in the maritime sector includes an assessment of:

  • A criminal records check undertaken by CrimTrac, which is used to determine if an applicant has an adverse criminal record
  • A security assessment conducted by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO)
  • If the applicant is not an Australian citizen, confirmation that the applicant has a right to work in Australia

Recently we were advised that Esso require additional security checking of our Members, despite the fact that our Members held MISC; the strong inference was that Esso did not have confidence in our MISC system. A very alarming development indeed! If MISC cannot get it right for Australian workers how are they going to be able to check foreign workers.

The regulatory changes would appear to be a golden opportunity for people smugglers, forget leaking boats, they could offer luxurious travel on a floatel in support of offshore resource activity, just sail into Darwin and seek asylum. And the 988 visa costs absolutely nothing.

Abbott bemoans the fact that Google only pay Australia $74,000 per year in taxation and he is telling the world stage that this needs to be fixed but he is quite happy to be complicit with the oil majors in defrauding the Australian Taxation Office of taxation revenue. Previously when our Members were engaged on the Lorelay or the Solitare, our Members were paid in accordance with the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry Agreements, on average our members would have earned approximately $4400 per week and paid approximately $2200 in taxation. Similar taxation receipts would have been paid by the Marine Engineers and lesser rates for the remaining crew. If we presume the average taxation receipts for the entire crew is, a conservative amount of $1500, we estimate the Allseas decision has deprived the Australian Taxation Office of at least $187,500 for each week [$1500 x 125 457 visa holders] the vessel was engaged in Australian waters in income taxation receipts alone. Australian seafarers would pay 2.5 times a week what Google pay in a year in taxation - the government should support Australian seafarers, not multinationals.

It is about time the Politicians did some heavy lifting! We urge Members to contact their local Member for Parliament, while they can still afford the postage / telephone call and highlight the need to employ an Australian in our maritime industry and ensure that the Australian Taxation Office receives the income receipts it sorely needs; otherwise the welfare payments are going to sky rocket.

Select Legislative Instrument No. 64, 2014

I, General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Ret'd), Governor‑General of the Commonwealth of Australia, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, make the following regulation. Dated 29 May 2014, Peter Cosgrove, Governor‑General By His Excellency's Command Scott Morrison Minister for Immigration and Border Protection

Contents

1............ Name of regulation.............................................................................. 1

2............ Commencement..................................................................................1

3............ Authority............................................................................................1

4............ Schedule(s)........................................................................................1

Schedule 1-Amendments                                                                                                    2

 

Migration Regulations 1994                                                                                                   2

1  Name of regulation

This regulation is the Migration Amendment (Offshore Resources Activity) Regulation 2014.

2  Commencement

This regulation commences on the commencement of Schedule 1 to the Migration Amendment (Offshore Resources Activity) Act 2013.

3  Authority

This regulation is made under the Migration Act 1958.

4  Schedule(s)

Each instrument that is specified in a Schedule to this instrument is amended or repealed as set out in the applicable items in the Schedule concerned, and any other item in a Schedule to this instrument has effect according to its terms.

Schedule 1-Amendments

Migration Regulations 1994

1  Regulation 1.03 (sub‑subparagraph (b)(ii)(B) of the definition of non‑military ship)

Repeal the sub‑subparagraph, substitute:

(B)  is not registered in the Australian International Shipping Register; unless a person on board the ship is participating in, or supporting, an offshore resources activity in relation to the area in which the ship is located.

2  Regulation 1.03

Insert: offshore resources activity has the meaning given by section 9A of the Act.

3  After subregulation 2.05(3)

Insert: (3A)  For paragraph 41(2B)(b) of the Act, the following visas are prescribed:

                     (a)  a Subclass 988 (Maritime Crew) visa;

                     (b)  a Subclass 400 (Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity)) visa;

                     (c)  a Subclass 457 (Temporary Work (Skilled)) visa.

4  After regulation 2.06AAA

Insert: 2.06AAB  Entry to Australia-persons entering to participate in, or support, offshore resource activities

For paragraphs 43(1)(c) and (1A)(b) of the Act, the following reason is prescribed:

                     (a)  the visa held by the visa holder is:

                              (i)  a permanent visa; or

                             (ii)  a Subclass 988 (Maritime Crew) visa; or

                            (iii)  a Subclass 400 (Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity)) visa; or

                            (iv)  a Subclass 457 (Temporary Work (Skilled)) visa; and

                     (b)  the holder is taken to travel to and enter Australia because of subsection 9A(3) of the Act.

Note 1:       Paragraph 43(1)(c) of the Act provides that if the holder of a visa that is in effect travels to Australia on a vessel, and a prescribed reason makes it necessary to enter Australia in a way other than at a port, or on a pre‑cleared flight, the visa is permission for the holder to enter Australia in that other way.

Note 2:       Paragraph 43(1A)(b) of the Act provides that if the holder of a maritime crew visa that is in effect travels to Australia on a vessel, and a prescribed reason makes it necessary to enter Australia in a way other than at a prescribed port, the visa is permission for the holder to enter Australia in that other way.

5  At the end of subregulation 3.03AA(1)

Add:

Note: For holders of Subclass 988 (Maritime Crew) visas who are in an area to participate in, or to support, an offshore resource activity, see item 11 of Part 2 of Schedule 9.

6  Clause 988.512 of Schedule 2 (cell at table item 2, column headed "Circumstances")

Repeal the cell, substitute:

Each of the following applies:

(a) the holder has entered Australia;

(b) the holder is not in an area to participate in, or to support, an offshore resources activity in relation to the area;

(c) the non‑military ship in relation to which the holder is:

(i) a member of the crew; or

(ii) the spouse, de facto partner or a dependent child of a member of the crew; has been imported under section 49A of the Customs Act 1901 or entered for home consumption under section 71A of that Act but is not registered in the Australian International Shipping Register;

(d) the holder has not signed on to another non‑military ship as a member of the crew, or as the spouse, de facto partner or a dependent child of a member of the crew before the latest of the following:

(i) 5 days after the day on which the non‑military ship was imported or entered for home consumption;

(ii) if an authorised officer decides, within those 5 days, to allow the person a longer period of up to 30 days after the day on which the non‑military ship was imported or entered for home consumption or the person was taken to leave Australia-the end of that longer period;

(iii) if the person was taken to be in the migration zone because of subsection 9A(1) of the Act-5 days after the day on which the holder was taken to leave Australia because of paragraph 9A(3)(d) of the Act;

(e) the person has not departed Australia before the latest of the following:

(i) 5 days after the day on which the non‑military ship was imported or entered for home consumption;

(ii) if an authorised officer decides, within those 5 days, to allow the person a longer period of up to 30 days after the day on which the non‑military ship was imported or entered for home consumption or the person was taken to leave Australia-the end of that longer period;

(iii) if the person was taken to be in the migration zone because of subsection 9A(1) of the Act-5 days after the day on which the holder is taken to leave Australia because of paragraph 9A(3)(d) of the Act;

(iv) if the holder holds another visa that is in effect-the day on which that other visa ceases

7  Clause 988.512 of Schedule 2 (cell at table item 2A, column headed "Circumstances")

Repeal the cell, substitute:

Each of the following applies:

(a) the holder has entered Australia;

(b) the holder is not in an area to participate in, or to support, an offshore resources activity in relation to the area;

(c) the non‑military ship in relation to which the holder is:

(i) a member of the crew; or

(ii) the spouse, de facto partner or a dependent child of a member of the crew; has been imported under section 49A of the Customs Act 1901 or entered for home consumption under section 71A of that Act;

(d) the non‑military ship was registered in the Australian International Shipping Register when the ship was imported or entered for home consumption;

(e) the non‑military ship ceases to be registered in that Register;

(f) the holder has not signed on to another non‑military ship as a member of the crew, or as the spouse, de facto partner or a dependent child of a member of the crew, before the latest of the following:

(i) 5 days after the day on which the non‑military ship ceases to be registered in the Australian International Shipping Register;

(ii) if an authorised officer decides, within those 5 days, to allow the person a longer period of up to 30 days after the day on which the non‑military ship was imported or entered for home consumption or the person was taken to leave Australia-the end of that longer period;

(iii) if the person was taken to be in the migration zone because of subsection 9A(1) of the Act-5 days after the day on which the holder is taken to leave Australia because of paragraph 9A(3)(d) of the Act;

(g) the person has not departed Australia before the latest of the following:

(i) 5 days after the day on which the non‑military ship ceases to be registered in the Australian International Shipping Register;

(ii) if an authorised officer decides, within those 5 days, to allow the person a longer period of up to 30 days after the day on which the non‑military ship ceases to be registered in that Register or the person was taken to leave Australia-the end of that longer period;

(iii) if the person was taken to be in the migration zone because of subsection 9A(1) of the Act-5 days after the day on which the holder is taken to leave Australia because of paragraph 9A(3)(d) of the Act;

(iv) if the holder holds another visa that is in effect-the day on which that other visa ceases

8  At the end of Part 2 of Schedule 9 (after the note)

Add:1               A person:

                     (a)  who is an Australian citizen, or holds one of the following types of visa that is in effect:

                              (i)  a permanent visa;

                             (ii)  a Subclass 988 (Maritime Crew) visa;

                            (iii)  a Subclass 400 (Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity)) visa;

                            (iv)  a Subclass 457 (Temporary Work (Skilled)) visa; and

                     (b)  who is taken to enter Australia because of paragraph 9A(3)(c) of the Act; and

                     (c)  whose entry has been reported in writing to Immigration

 

Jan Thompson

Industrial Officer

Australian Maritime Officers Union

194 Drummond Street Carlton 3054

Ph: 03 9663 6702, Mob: 0417 050 816

jan@amou.com.au