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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Page: 6425


Mr MORRISON (Cook) (17:10): First of all, I request that the minister table the 2011-12 outcome for the migration program as well as the 2012-13 planning levels. They have not been posted on the website since the budget was released, so I request that he do that. Going further, though, to the matters that the minister has raised in his opening statement, I add the coalition's support. I know that the minister appreciates it greatly when the coalition supports initiatives of the government, particularly in this area. I put on record that the coalition is very supportive of a number of the changes that the government has introduced in skilled migration. Although I am yet to see the details of the business skills reforms that he announced last Friday, in principle they are welcome.

I also welcome the minister's statements about the balance of the overall program between the skills and the family component. One of the great achievements of the Howard government was to lift the proportion of skilled migrants in the overall permanent migration program from less than 30 per cent to almost 70 per cent. The government has fallen back a little from that, but not much, and I think the intention of the government is to retain it at around two-thirds of the overall program, which is welcome. The other very important reform which is being introduced by the government—and I particularly commend the department officials on this—is the SkillSelect program. The SkillSelect program is a very worthy advance, and I commend those involved in it. Finally, visa subclass reform is effectively an area of regulation and the more we can do to reduce the paperwork around the issues in that is something that the coalition would always support.

The Enterprise Migration Agreements policy was part of last year's budget and is now very much in the public domain. This is a policy the coalition has supported from day one. It is a worthy policy which ensures that proponents of large projects can get upfront support to reduce the uncertainty around the implementation of their projects, which enables them to attract funding and support. I have a number of questions about the policy, and I ask the minister to take them either here or on notice. My questions are: can the minister confirm that the deed giving effect to the enterprise migration agreement for the Roy Hill mine project approved by the minister has not yet been signed? When will this deed be signed? What, if any, additional requirements were added to the arrangement by the government for the deed to be signed? Did any government minister seek to impose any additional conditions on that agreement before it was announced last Friday, or since, in relation to the finalisation of the deed for signing? Has the minister done an assessment or asked for an assessment to be done on the impact of any of these additional conditions in terms of their impact on this project? Would it delay start-up? If so, by how long and what will the impact of these delays be on the ability of the Roy Hill project to secure its financing? Finally, can the minister confirm that side agreements for the Roy Hill mine yet to be agreed with construction unions could restrict access to foreign workers provided for under the enterprise migration agreement and approved by the government? What steps is the minister or the government taking to ensure that unions will not use these agreements on site as a secondary bar to frustrate the purposes of the government's EMA and therefore put at risk this $9 billion project and the more than 6,000 Australians jobs it will deliver?