The Roy Hill iron ore project in Pilbara is still to receive its 1,700 international workers after eight months.
03 January 2013
Australia visa deal still stalling
A controversial Australia visa deal granted to billionaire mining magnate Gina Rinehart is still to be put in place, despite being signed almost eight months ago.
Ms Rinehart, the world's richest woman, was granted the first Enterprise Migration Agreement (EMA) in May 2012. The deal allowed the mining heiress' multi-billion Roy Hill mining project to bring in 1,715 foreign workers on an Australian 457 visa to help with the construction phase of the project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
The deal proved controversial with Australian workers' unions who claimed local workers should be prioritised over international workers. However, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen argued that safeguards in the EMA deal protected local workers' rights and confirmed that more EMAs were in the offing for other mining and construction projects.
Yet eight months on and Prime Minister Julia Gillard's government is yet to sign off on the first agreement, reportedly frustrating executives at Ms Gillard's Hancock Prospecting.
Upon announcing the deal, Mr Bowen said it would come into effect 'shortly' but a slowdown in the mining and construction boom - which created the initial staff shortages and made the importation of foreign workers necessary - may have stayed the government's hand.
The Roy Hill project will reportedly need as many as 8,000 skilled workers in the three year construction phase alone and, despite the apparent lack of progress, Mr Bowen's spokesperson confirmed the deal was still to move forward:
"Both parties are working to finalise the agreement as soon as possible."
The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy.