The iron ore mining project Roy Hill has come under criticism after Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen allowed it to sponsor up to 1,715 foreign workers.
This Enterprise Migration Agreement (EMA), a custom-designed, project-wide migration agreement, is the first of its kind ever issued by the ministry.
Where the company cannot find Australians to fill positions, it will be able to bring in up to 1,715 foreign workers, out of a total of 8,000 workers required during the construction phase, with Bowen saying “there simply aren’t enough people in the local workforce to get the job done”.
He reiterated that “the government's first priority is always ensuring jobs for Australian workers”.
However, after a significant backlash following the announcement made last week, including the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) referring to it as “a kick in the guts for Australian workers”, Roy Hill refuted the allegation on its website.
The statement notes that it is “committed to providing immediate and enduring benefits to the economy at local, regional, state and national levels… [However] this needs to be balanced with commercial realities”.
The Roy Hill statement also says that the company awarded 97% of contracts to Western Australia firms recently, compared to 72% in other major projects.
There will also be “2,000 permanent jobs for Australian citizens” for the next 20 years once construction is complete, it says.