It seems likely that new visas will be created in Australia especially for the offshore resource industry for overseas workers employed in the oil and gas sectors.

Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Michaelia Cash, revealed at a conference in Perth that the government is committed to sensible visa arrangements that minimise red tape and unnecessary costs for offshore projects that create jobs and need skilled overseas workers.

OILRIG

The government is comitted to minimising red tape and unnecessary costs for offshore projects​

She explained to delegates at the Australian Mines and Metals Association summit that the government is concerned that the Migration Amendment (Offshore Resources Activity) Act 2013 will impose an additional regulatory burden and extra costs.

The government wants to repeal the act, which does not come into effect until the end of June this year. But meanwhile, a new visa for the sector should offset the burdens in the short term. 'The new visas use existing visas that the industry is already familiar with. This will make it easier to manage the transition, and avoid the costs of developing and implementing a new visa,' she explained.

AMMA executive director Scott Barklamb welcomed the commitment to repealing the ORA legislation, which he said should never have been approved by the previous government as it ignores the serious concerns of the resource industry.

'This was punitive regulation for regulation's sake, imposed at the behest of unions. There was never any loophole to be closed. [Every] other country in the world regulates employment on offshore projects only within their proper territorial jurisdiction,' said Barklamb.

He explained that the legislation would do nothing to protect the jobs of Australian employees and served only to deliberately complicate doing business in Australia's resource industry.

A regulatory impact statement prepared by the government said the oil and gas operations will grow faster than other areas of the resources sector, with the number of offshore workers climbing from 475,000 to 766,000 by 2018.

The AMMA argues that the act is inconsistent with international practice and how resource related vessels operate in international waters subject to management by other countries. They say it is also inconsistent with industry practice and particularly impractical in an economic environment in which we need to be attracting more project investment to Australia.

It also said that if it is not repealed it will delay crew mobilisation for offshore projects, impact productivity, increase costs and impose a further unnecessary regulatory burden on an offshore resource industry that is already highly regulated and facing increased global competition.