The Federal Government has been forced to implement a new visa regime for offshore oil workers after it suffered an embarrassing loss in the Senate that left foreigners legally unable to work on rigs and ships.
Assistant Minister for Immigration Michaelia Cash said last night she would regulate to restore the use of 457 work visas for foreign workers on fixed platform vessels such as oil rigs.
Under changes, maritime crew visas could be used only for personnel on board ships coming into Australia's migration zone.
In a move that outraged unions, the Government moved earlier this year to allow the use of MCVs in all offshore work.
Unions argued the MCVs would allow employers to bring in foreigners on lower wages and with less stringent conditions.
On Wednesday night, Labor and the Palmer United Party joined with the Greens to strike out the Government's visa regulations, effectively leaving all foreigners in offshore areas in breach of their visas.
Under 457 visas, employers are first required to fill a job with an Australian. Any foreigner employed must get the same rates and conditions as an Australian.
It is understood the powerful Maritime Union of Australia is seeking advice about the impact of the new regulations.
Colin Beckett, Chevron Australia Greater Gorgon Area general manager, said: "We welcome the Federal Government's prompt action to provide certainty to the thousands of Australians working to support the offshore oil and gas sector."