Maritime Unions Protest Perth Skilled Migration Conference, Consider Appeal To Federal Court

Maritime unions are protesting in Perth against federal government measures that make it easier for employers to hire overseas workers for offshore oil and gas projects.

AAP PERTHNOW, 16 September 2014

The Maritime Union of Australia rally is being held outside the AMMA Skilled Migration Conference, attended by assistant minister for immigration Michaelia Cash.

Senator Cash in July issued a ministerial determination nullifying restrictions on foreign workers on offshore projects that were imposed by the Labor government.

Today’s protest comes a day after a Federal Court decision to throw out the MUA and Australian Maritime Officers Union’s challenge to her determination.

However, Justice Robert Buchanan said the argument put by the unions was “a powerful one”.

The MUA is considering appealing.

“It beggars belief that a government can override a decision by the Senate and we’ll continue to look at all avenues of appeal,” MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin said.

“No doubt Senator Cash and her mates at AMMA were celebrating when the decision was handed down, as they popped open champagne corks to toast the shafting of the next generation of Australian oil and gas workers.”

MUA Western Australia secretary Christy Cain said the union was not against 457 workers, but local options needed to be exhausted first.

The union is particularly angry about the hiring of about 30 foreign welders at the Chevron-operated Gorgon gas project on Barrow Island off WA’s Pilbara coast.

Senator Cash said several unions again illustrated today that they acted in their own self-centred interests rather than in the national interest.

“Throughout this whole affair there has only been one risk to Australian jobs and it has come

from irresponsible, self-interested unions leading a reckless misinformation campaign against

the limited use of foreign workers, whose very involvement in Australian projects allows the

creation of thousands of Australian jobs,” she said.

“The hypocritical and disingenuous nature of the MUA campaign is highlighted by the fact that

on the one hand they persecute these highly specialised foreign workers, arguing they are

taking Australian jobs, whilst on the other hand they allege to protect them from exploitation.”

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