News
11.07.14

Marine Crew Visa

Dear Member,

The Australian government is attempting to introduce the Migration Amendment (Offshore Resource Activity) Repeal Bill 2014.

This Bill is aimed at removing the legislation put in place by the previous government in response to the Allseas Federal Court case. In addition, this current Government has changed the migration regulations to allow foreign workers to participate in offshore activities with a marine crew visa (s988) bypassing the requirement to obtain a s457 visa as was previously the requirement for foreign workers to engage in this industry.

It is our understanding that this bill could be put before the Senate as early as Monday 14th July.

The AMOU urges it's members to contact their Senators in writing to convey their disapproval of this step to deny Australian officers the opportunity to work in this sector as a matter of urgency.

In order to assist the members with this, we have attached copies of the following documents for the information of members.

  1. Transcript of the first reading in the House of Representatives;
  2. Hansard House of Representatives 26 May 2014 (refer pages 78-96);
  3. Explanatory Memorandum Offshore Resources Activity Repeal Bill;
  4. Bill Digest; and
  5. Senate Committee Report.
  6. List of Senators

Please find document How to address Senator and Members of parliament.

We have also drafted a generic letter to which you can address and sign, but we encourage members to write their own letters as they see fit.  Please click here for a PDF copy of the generic letter.  Also attached the contact details for the members of the Senate for you to direct your correspondence.

**Please see below for the Generic letter which you can copy to a word document, for your convenience:

"Senator [Name of Local Senator]

 Via email: [Senators email address]

 Dear Senator [Senator Surname]

 PROTECT AUSTRALIAN JOBS

Shortly the Government will ask you to vote in favour of repealing laws that require non-Australian citizens to gain permission to work in our offshore oil and gas industry.

If passed, the repeal of these laws will mean that non-citizens will not need to go through the stringent work visas requirements to work on vessels within Australia's migration zone.

The Government has agreed with employers in this industry that they must be able to do business consistent with international laws and practices.  When the Abbott government said "Australia was open for business" did the Australian public know that this meant "bring your own foreign workforce and don't pay any taxes"?

The Government has also moved amendments to the Migration Regulations 1994 that will allow foreign working on an offshore resources activity to apply for a Maritime Crew Visa (subclass 988) ("988 Visa") rather than a Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa (subclass 457) with the accompanying checks and balances.

These workers, working in Australian water will not be paid Australian wages and conditions of employment and will also do not pay taxes.

Minister Morrison has said that maybe 2,000 workers will be affected by these changes. 

Minister Morrison also said in the Second Reading speech to the Parliament:  'compare this with the 68,000 overseas workers who were granted 457 visas in the last financial year . . . it becomes even clearer just how small the number really is'. The flow on consequences on indirect employment would be much wider than 2000 seafarer and offshore construction workers; this would affect an entire industry, dominated by multinationals that would no longer need to domicile their business in Australia. Australians engaged as accountants, engineers, project managers, HR managers and administration workers would all lose their jobs.

I am deeply concerned that the Federal Government wants to make it easier for vessels operating in the offshore oil and gas industry to use foreign crews, at the expense of Australian maritime workers.  My colleagues and I make up part of these 2,000 workers that this legislation targets, and to us this is a big number and a big deal:

  • It is our living and our children's future.
  • We live in an island nation. We should have a vibrant seafaring workforce. These measures will erode our technical skill capacity and would further impact upon employment opportunities in the greater Australian maritime sector.
  •  The offshore oil and gas sector is a significant contributor to the 44 Australian Maritime Safety Authority approved training organisations. The largest of these, the Australian Maritime College in Launceston would be devastated by these changes as approximately half of their students would be sponsored by employers engaged in the  offshore oil and gas industry. The social and economic impact on Launceston in particular would be catastrophic.
  •  This is not just about our jobs it is also about our national security. In times of national and international crisis, the Australian Government has called on the Australian Merchant Navy to assist Australian defence force to provide support.
  •  It is our great fear that this will not stop at seafarers. Airline staff, truck drivers, nurses, and teachers may be next. Australians should have the first right to work in Australia in the exploration and development of our natural resources.

I ask that you protect Australian jobs by:

  • voting against the Migration Amendment (Offshore Resources Activity) Repeal Bill 2014; and
  • prevent the Federal Government from continuing to issue Maritime Crew (subclass 988) visas to foreign workers engaged in offshore resource activity.

Yours faithfully,

 [YOUR NAME]

[Occupation]

Email: Your email address"

 

Yours in Unity,

Capt. Dan Pearson, Secretary AMOU Western Area

1 High Street, Fremantle WA 6160

m +61407959760 | p +61893353535 | f +61893351990

dan@amou.com.auwww.amou.com.au