Archive for » May, 2012 «

1,700 workers to be brought in on 457 visas to work on Western Australia mining project

Unions have slammed the Federal Government’s announcement of an agreement that will allow more than 1,700 foreign workers to be brought in to work on a large Western Australian mining project.

The agreement, the first of its kind, will allow the Roy Hill project in the Pilbara to sponsor overseas workers on 457 visas.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says the project will have massive economic benefits.

“This is about providing certainty for investors,” he said.

But it has drawn an angry response from union leaders, who have accused the Government of “sheer lunacy”.

Paul Howes from the Australian Workers Union says it is bad news for Australian workers.

“Frankly, I just can’t get my head around what political genius thought this was a good idea,” he said.

“Who thought this is a great thing to do today? It is just sheer lunacy. Sheer lunacy.”

Dave Noonan from the CFMEU says the Government is selling out workers.

“The Minister’s press release described this as a historic announcement,” he said.

“It is indeed a historic announcement when a Labor Minister puts the interests of billionaire mining companies ahead of the interests of working Australians and the Australian community at large.”

The Federal Government frontbencher Gary Gray has defended the decision.

He says the Government wants to make sure major projects are built on time and on budget.

“As you start building you may discover you need this particular welding skill or that particular scaffolding skill, that needs to be on hand and available right now,” he said.

“The quickest way to access that is to make sure you have an intelligent system.”

The Government says more large-scale agreements are under negotiation.

Preferential Visa treatment if you’ve five million Australian dollars to spare

If you’ve FIVE MILLION Australian dollars going spare, then you could be in line for preferential visa treatment under new rules set to be introduced by the Federal Government in the next couple of months.

Those who are able to invest that sum, will be eligible under the plan will receive concessional treatment when applying for permanent residency.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says there are already some special arrangements in place, but he thinks it can be done better.

“We want to attract people who want to invest in Australia,” he said.

“I think we can do it better, I think we can attract people, particularly people who want to innovate, who want to take risks, who want to invest in areas which might have trouble attracting capital in Australia.”

Mr Bowen said the Government would also make changes to the broader business visa program.

“We want them to make a commitment to Australia financially, we also want them to make some commitment to Australia emotionally, and we’ll have a range of measures in place which I’ll be announcing later today to do that.

First place for Australia in OECD’s Better Life survey rankings

A newly released survey by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ranks Australia first in it’s annual ‘Better Life’ index.

34 member nations are surveyed on 11 topics: housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, governance, health, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance.

While the survey does not name a nation as highest ranked, if all fields were given equal weight Australia would emerge on top.

Australians gave their life satisfaction a score of 7.4 out of 10, above the average of 6.7 among the nations surveyed.

Australians still have faith in the nation’s governance, with the survey finding 74 percent trust their political institutions.

In its latest economic outlook the OECD forecast Australian growth of 3.1 per cent in 2012 and 3.7 per cent in 2013, after a 2.2 per cent expansion in 2011.

Australian economy set for continued growth

According to the OECD’s Economic Outlook report which was published yesterday, Australia is set to grow at just about the fastest pace in the developed world for decades to come. The report ranks Australia near the top for economic growth during 2012, behind South Korea, Mexico and Chile.

While Australia’s economy is set to grow at 3.1 per cent this year, close to the budget forecast, the US should grow at 2.4 per cent, Britain 0.5 per cent, and Italy and Greece should slide further into recession.

The report credits the mining boom with keeping Australia ahead of the pack

The report endorses the budget strategy of spreading the benefits of the boom, saying the decision to concentrate budget cuts on defence and foreign aid should ”limit the negative impact on activity”. It finds Australia’s combined state and federal government debt among the lowest of any member nation.

Projections to 2050 give Australia the highest growth rate in the developed world after Chile and Mexico. China is set to overtake the US as the world’s biggest economy in 2017. India and Indonesia will grow faster than China from 2020.

Immigration restrictions on health grounds to be relaxed

THE Federal govt is poised to relax immigration laws, which should lead to the admission of more immigrants with disabilities and medical conditions.

The govt is amending how it determines if impaired foreigners would unduly burden the Australian health system and the public purse.

More than one in 10 people on immigration blacklists are there because of health concerns – with analysis showing it has more to do with financial considerations than risk to Australians.

Of the 599 foreigners denied a visa on health grounds in 2010-11, after having a health examination, 392 failed on cost or prejudice of access grounds.

They were classified as being likely to cost governments more than $21,000 over five years — or three years for those aged 75 or older — or potentially stand in the way of Australians receiving treatments including organ transplants, blood and plasma products, and radiotherapy.

People with HIV, a heart condition or cancer have been blocked from entering Australia, as well as those with epilepsy, a mental illness or intellectual disability.

However, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship has foreshadowed an increase to the $21,000 health expenses threshold used to judge immigration applications, along with “wider reforms to the health requirement” in coming months.

The threshold has remain unchanged for a decade, and stakeholders have increased their campaign for reform, prompting the department to commission an external review by Allen Consulting. That confidential review has recommended a new formula that would increase the threshold.

The Australian has sought a copy of the external review, and a separate internal review, under under Freedom of Information laws but the department has delayed a decision.

However, a department spokesman this week confirmed Allen Consulting had recommended the threshold be raised and said an announcement was likely within months.

The reforms have taken so long — Allen Consulting reported to the department at the end of 2010, several months after a parliamentary inquiry demanded action — that some foreigners would have been denied entry under a threshold the department apparently accepts was too low.

The department reaffirmed the $21,000 figure in its latest manual for government-appointed medical officers, who are, controversially, required to ignore any evidence an applicant has insurance, a scholarship or other funds to pay their own way.

Some mining companies, in particular, have had to commit to paying medical bills of workers on 457 visas who would otherwise have been excluded from entry on health grounds.

The minister, Chris Bowen, can intervene, but the department does not collect data on the number of health cases that warrant his attention.

The parliamentary committee, chaired by Labor MP Michael Danby, was highly critical of the process, saying it reflected “old-fashioned approaches to disability in particular”.

Moving to Australia webchat on Tuesday evening

Our sister site – Poms in Oz is hosting a live webchat session with leading experts in banking, currency exchange, financial/pensions advice, international removals and pet transportation. The chat event will take place on Tuesday 22nd May 2012 from 20:00-22:00 (UK Time). National Australia Bank, Moneycorp, PSS International Removals, PetAirUK and Vista Financial Services will be on hand to answer any questions you may have about your move.

If you have an account on Pomsinoz, to participate, head over to www.pomsinoz.com, login, then click on the ‘chat’ menu option at the top of the page. Clicking on chat will launch the chat software. There will different ‘rooms’ for each of the different companies.

If you don’t have an account of Pomsinoz, you can still participate by by following this link – Chat with Industry Experts, then, once the chat software has loaded, tick the ‘Guest’ option at the top of the chat window, then choose a username and click ‘Login’ and enter the ‘Moneycorp, NAB, PSS, PetAirUK or Vista Financial Services’ chat rooms.

 

National Australia Bank

Rebecca Joils will talk about the Australian Banking system providing you with some insights as to what is different between the UK and Australia. She will also talk about how straight forward it is to open an Australian Bank account before you leave home and some of the services you should consider.

 

Moneycorp

Whether you are moving to Australia, or living there already, John Kinghorn will bring you the latest updates on the Aussie dollar and provide insight into the key factors influencing market movements. Exchange rates are constantly fluctuating and transferring your funds at the right time, via the right channel, can make a big difference to the amount of money you actually end up with.

 

PSS International Removals

One of the key ingredients when you are moving overseas is the planning of your removal. Liam Witham will be on hand to offer advice and answer any questions you may have regarding the packing and shipping of your household effects, including what items you can ship to Australia, Australian Customs procedures and AQIS.

 

PetAir UK

Bob Ghandour, Veterinary Consultant and Director of PetAir UK will be on hand to discuss any aspects of shipping your pets to Australia. PetAir UK is a unique pet travel service run by specialised vets for ultimate peace of mind. We will transport your pets safely and comfortably – worldwide. No matter what the journey, we will remove the stress of complicated pet travel arrangements and ensure the best possible service to our clients and their much-loved companions is one of our highest priorities. We operate a ‘one of the family’ policy, where all animals are treated with the same respect and care as our own pets. We know how much it means to you that your beloved pet arrives safely and by using PetAir UK you can assure yourself you are providing the very best care for your pet. We offer truly comprehensive packages which provide absolute continuity from start to finish. Every client is allocated one of our personal veterinary consultants who will oversee every step of the process. From complex documentation and import permit applications through to last minute flight changes, nothing is a problem for our competent and dedicated team.

 

Vista Financial Services

Andrew Williams is both a UK qualified and Australian practicing Financial Adviser and Mortgage Consultant specialising in advising UK expats in Australia on the transition and development of their financial affairs. From assisting clients with securing their first Australian mortgage through to working with them to understand whether transferring their UK Pensions is in their interests, Andrew is able to help answer your questions and concerns on a wide range of financial planning matters.

Migrants unprepared for working in Western Australia

According to Western Australian government minister for Training and Workforce Development, many workers consider Western Australia to be at “the end of the earth” and many of those who move there on the promise of high wages can’t tolerate the isolation and heat.

As one of Australia’s largest labour hire firms yesterday urged against reliance on overseas workers, Mr Collier gave a frank assessment of the difficulties in attracting and retaining workers for WA’s roaring resources and mining industry.

“There are massive shifts from NSW to Queensland, but they seem to feel like they’re coming to the end of the earth here in WA,” he said.

The WA government had resorted to an information campaign assuring potential workers the state had internet, mobile phone coverage and other services that people were used to in the east, he said.

“It’s not just attracting them that is hard — if they come over with the prospect of earning $150,000 a year they quickly get a reality check: the stark reality of being so isolated and the temperatures.”

Programmed Group managing director Chris Sutherland, whose firm’s labour hire division has offices across Australia, said the huge shortfalls in blue-collar, semi-skilled and unskilled labour in WA could be filled from interstate rather than from overseas “if our clients give us enough opportunity to train existing skilled workers in the job-specific or specialist equipment needs of the project or operation”.

Mr Sutherland believes there may be no need — or much less need — for Enterprise Migration Agreements like the one reportedly being negotiated between the federal government and Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting.

“In one example we were looking for about 80 roles on a mine site and had 3600 applicants from across Australia,” Mr Sutherland said.

Moving to Queensland Forum

Moving to Queensland AustraliaIf you’re emigrating to Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Townsville, Cairns or anywhere else in Queensland Australia, then it may be worthwhile registering on ‘Life in Queensland‘ – an internet discussion forum for anyone who’s thinking or in the process of moving to Queensland and to expats who’ve already made the move the the ‘Sunshine State’. The forum has over 2,000 members who are happy to advise on visas/migration, shipping removals and aspects of living in QLD such as the best suburbs, climate, education, employment etc. Members also have frequent get togethers which are a great way to meet new friends when you first arrive. The forum has members and visitors from many different countries and everyone is welcome to join and participate.

Extra skilled migration places for 2012-2013

The Australian Government has announced a targeted increase to the 2012–13 migration program, providing additional places to help fill skills shortages in parts of the Australian economy.

Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen MP said the planned migration program in the 2012–13 Budget would provide support to the growth regions and sectors of Australia’s economy struggling to meet acute skills shortages.

‘The measured increase of 5000 places—from 185 000 to 190 000—comes in the context of significant skills gaps in both the short and medium term in certain sectors of our patchwork economy,’ Mr Bowen said.

The 2012–13 migration program includes a skill stream of 129 250 places, 60 185 family places and a special eligibility stream of 565 places.

Mr Bowen said regional visas would also continue to be given high processing priority to recognise the needs of regional employers and encourage regional migration.

Up to 16 000 places have been reserved for the regional sponsored migration scheme (skilled) to ensure those areas have the support they need to fill skills gaps, grow local economies and strengthen communities.

‘Skilled migrants are increasingly moving to growth regions and places where there is demand—they are complementing rather than competing with our domestic labour force,’ Mr Bowen said.

‘Further recent reforms have made employer-sponsored programs more streamlined and responsive.’

The Gillard Government has undertaken systematic reforms of Australia’s skilled migration program since 2007, ensuring skilled migrants now have higher levels of productivity and stronger employment outcomes.

Mr Bowen said the government also recognised the important social benefits of close family reunion, reflected in the increase in family places from 58 600 to 60 185.

‘It’s obviously important that people be able to live with family members, which is recognised in the increased places to help meet growing demand. Importantly, partners and children can also be great contributors to our nation’s productivity,’ Mr Bowen said.

‘Our skilled migration program is driven by Australia’s genuine skills needs and not simply by those who wish to become Australian residents. We believe we have the balance right.’

Resources sector call for increase in skilled migrant numbers

The chairman of Woodside Petroleum, Michael Chaney has called on the Australian government to facilitate a large increase in skilled migrants numbers, warning that the rapid growth of Australia?s resources and mining sectors are fuelling cost and schedule pressures.

Mr Chaney told Woodside’s annual general meeting in Perth today that the spike in demand for skilled labour in the resources sector was responsible for driving up costs, and this “runs the risk of impacting project economics”.

“In an industry experiencing such rapid growth, we must stay on top of these challenges if Australia is to realise its potential in LNG.”

Mr Chaney, who also chairs National Australia Bank, told shareholders that the Australian oil and gas industry was increasingly focused on skills development to provide the labour to develop LNG projects concurrently.

But the industry also needed more temporary skilled migration to fill the gap between supply and demand.

Mr Chaney said cost increases resulting from productivity losses were also threatening the viability of Australian projects.

“To manage these cost pressures, we must continue to improve national workforce productivity and flexibility, while providing adequate protection to employees,” he said.

The meeting was continuing at the time of this report.