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Unions must accept government's call with EMAs: Gray
28/05/2012 - Unions will have to put up with the federal government's new enterprise migration agreements (EMA) because the decision has been made, Special Minister of State Gary Gray says. Rebecca Le May
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Unions expressed outrage that the commonwealth on Friday announced its first EMA with Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting for its multi-billion-dollar Roy Hill iron-ore project in Western Australia, saying Australians would be denied entry-level jobs.
More than 1700 foreign workers will be allowed for the peak construction phase at Roy Hill, which needs 8000 workers to build.
Gray said some of the 2000 people that Hancock Prospecting would train in exchange for being allowed to import workers would be covered by the EMA "but most will be Australian".
The EMAs were a mechanism to get up major projects that were significant to the national economy in time to meet market demand, he said.
"If we were to sit back ... the risk is that we will miss that market and we will end up in future generations with lots of rocks that no-one wants," Gray told a business panel discussion in Perth.
"The unions and other stakeholders have had their say and the government has made its call - end of story.
"If we don't get this EMA in place, this project won't get built on time and on budget, and if we don't get it built on time and on budget, we will not bring millions of tonnes of iron ore to market to support our economy."
Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt told the function he was concerned the foreign workers would build up their skills and then promptly leave Australia while Liberal senator Eric Abetz said he supported EMAs "in principle ... if for the reasons Gary announced".
"We'll reserve judgment in relation to the fine print," Senator Abetz said.
Mining magnate Clive Palmer said it was important to support nationally significant projects with expected lives of 30 to 40 years because benefits would flow through to improve the nation's standard of living.
"If we don't do something like this, we won't have any jobs at all," Palmer said.
"We need to get on with the job. We've got to get rid of all this bloody rubbish that stops us competing."
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Pat | 28/05/2012 09:49 1
The announcement would have been a lot more palatable if at the same time, Gina Rhinehart and the government had announced that they where starting a training centre for Australians (young and old), to train for the jobs that are being exported. Bottom line is, %5 unemployment is still unacceptable. And much of that training/re-skilling, should be adult focussed. We need workers, we do need to get these projects up and running, but I would also like to see that it isn't a cover for exploitation as well.
alan | 28/05/2012 10:58 2
Surely the bigger companies have a moral and social repsonsibility to run training projects for Australian workers for the future benefit of all Australia. I would love a job in the mines but can not find anywhere that runs such training
Colin Spencer | 28/05/2012 11:24 3
Accommodating thousands of workers on projects in remote areas becomes twice as difficult, if you have to cater for families. Foreign workers will be single men. The wages bill won't change much, but the cost to support the work force will be less than half of what it could be if families needed to be accommodated.
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