05 September 2011

New Australian visa scheme sparks controversy

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As more details have emerged as to how the new Enterprise Migration Agreements (EMA) Australian visa scheme will work, critics have come out against it, asserting that the scheme will overlook local workers in favour of new workers emigrating to Australia.

Australian visa

Critics have come out against the Australian visa Enterprise Migration Agreements (EMA).

The motivation behind the introduction of the Enterprise Migration Agreements (EMA) stems from the fact that the resources sector in Australia has many multi-billion-dollar projects in the works, but lacks the workforce required to see these developments through to fruition.

For example, it has been alleged that over 33,000 workers will be needed in the next 18 months in Western Australia. As a result, the EMA has been presented as the answer, as these agreements will allow foreign skilled workers to receive a temporary Australian visa and be brought into Australia to work on the projects.

However, concerns have been raised that the scheme will result in local workers being overlooked. Dave Noon, from the construction and mining union CFMEU, made the following comments:

"We've got a situation where there are a number of large redundancies in the manufacturing industry, but also activities in commercial city construction are quite low at the moment.

"We would have thought that it was important to ensure that suitably skilled local workers are offered employment before employers are entitled to bring in large numbers of guest workers from overseas."

In response to this, Peter Speldewinde from the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has stated that the scheme is not intended to encourage employers to bypass local workers in favour of migrants.

"The pricing schedules around the salaries that need to be paid to a worker coming to Australia under the EMA would make them relatively more expensive than the equivalent Australian worker," said Speldewinde.

The temporary Australian visas will only be issued for workers who are employed on larger projects that require more than 1,500 staff and are worth $2 billion or more.


The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people lodge their Australia immigration application with the Australian High Commission.

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