Statement by BCA Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott
The approval by the federal government of its first Enterprise Migration Agreement (EMA), for the Roy Hill project in Western Australia's Pilbara region, is a welcome step in ensuring Australia can deliver the very large projects that underpin the resilience of our national economy.
Australia's unprecedented pipeline of major resource projects is dependent on access to skilled labour. The Australian community can only benefit from these projects if they are delivered successfully rather than being shelved due to a lack of available workers.
EMAs that allow temporary migration of semi-skilled workers are one way of overcoming a chronic shortage of workers to deliver on this unprecedented pipeline.
Concerns that Australians are being shut out of resources jobs are unfounded. Employers must demonstrate in their application for an EMA why they are unable to fill the vacancies from the local labour market.
Project owners are also required to commit to training plans that make a significant and commensurate contribution to the skilling of Australians, and they must also consult with unions that represent employees in occupations listed under the EMA.
The federal government should be commended for addressing a key risk in the delivery of large resource projects, and helping to lock in the investment pipeline that is so important to Australia in a time of global economic uncertainty.