The first ever enterprise migration agreement (EMA) has been pushed through by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), going to the iron mining project at Roy Hill in The Pilbara.
According to the minister for immigration and citizenship Chris Bowen, the delivery of the EMA was a powerful move that would help to ease the employment markets and the skills shortages that were prominent in the area.
Mr Bowen asserted: "With more than 8,000 workers required during the construction phase of the Roy Hill project, there simply aren't enough people in the local workforce to get the job done.
"As part of the EMA, Roy Hill will provide up to 2,000 training places for Australians. This includes places for more than 200 Australian apprentices and trainees, as well as preparing over 100 Indigenous Australians to work in the construction industry."
The minister went on to say that the agreement was set up to protect the interests of both local and international workers - a key point of many workplace immigration visas.
He stated: "The EMA also sets out protections to ensure that foreign workers are only recruited after genuine efforts to first employ Australians, and that visa holders engaged on the project receive the same wages and conditions as their Australian counterparts."
Enterprise migration agreements are tailored through applications and negotiations with the DIAC to suit a specific business or project - delivering a standard set of conditions under which international workers may be hired.
As registered agents know, it is important to ensure that even temporary international workers are subject to the same laws and allowances as their local colleagues - and businesses that fail to meet these standards can face severe penalties that include fines and even imprisonment.
These agreements look to benefit larger projects by providing access to the skilled workers they need in the development phases and beyond.
The minister for resources and energy Martin Ferguson echoed Mr Bowen's remarks, adding that each use of an EMA would help to create new opportunities, drive employment and help to grow the local economy.
Mr Ferguson stated: "We need Enterprise Migration Agreements to cut red tape for very large resources projects such as Roy Hill which have a very strong demand for labour.
"EMAs address one of the biggest risks to many of these projects which is inadequate supply of labour and skills in the short-term construction phase."