Migration Amendment (Offshore Resources Activity) Bill 2013 becomes an Act in Federal Parliament

Wednesday 3 July 2013 @ 1.40 p.m. | Immigration

The Migration Amendment (Offshore Resources Activity) Act 2013 (CTH) (117 of 2013) was assented on 29 June 2013. It adds to a long line of migration amendments and also provides that persons who participate in, or support, an offshore resources activity are taken to be in the migration zone based on the recommendations of the Migration Maritime Taskforce (the Taskforce).

Although the Federal Parliament has excised Mainland Australia from the Migration Zone, all people participating in offshore resources activities are taken to be within the migration zone for the purposes of visa and security measures.

The Government is committed to maintaining the security of Australia’s borders. Under the current legislative framework, the Government has an incomplete picture of the number of foreign workers in the offshore maritime zone. This is in part due to the absence of a regulated visa regime to capture those engaged in Australia’s offshore maritime zones and the corresponding migration information. There are security ramifications as a result of the inability to regulate foreign workers engaged in offshore resources activities in an immigration context. The June 2012 Report of the Offshore Oil and Gas Resources Sector Security Inquiry recognised that visa security checks are one of the only ways Australia is able to examine non-citizen workers in this security-sensitive industry.

The amendments in this Act regulate foreign workers participating in offshore resources activities by bringing these persons into the migration zone and thereby requiring them to hold a visa under the Act.

In terms of selecting offshore resources activities, the Taskforce recommended referencing a legislative solution that comprehensively administer the activities of the offshore resources industry comprising the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 and the Offshore Minerals Act 1994.

In addition to this, the Act will create a power for the Minister to make a determination in writing for the purposes of defining offshore resources activity. This will provide the Minister with flexibility to declare certain activities administered by other regulatory schemes as offshore resource activities for the purposes of the new deemed migration zone. This would include projects that take place in areas that are within the coastal waters of the States and the Northern Territory which are regulated under State and Territory laws rather than their Commonwealth equivalents.

The legislative measures will supplement the current framework under the Act which defines, as part of the migration zone, Australian resources installations and Australian sea installations. Together with the existing provisions in the Act, this new comprehensive framework will ensure that workers in Australia’s offshore resources industry are regulated under the Act and required to hold specific visas. Individuals who engage in offshore resources activities in Australia’s offshore maritime zones will be subject to existing compliance measures in the Act which address breaches of work and visa conditions.

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