The federal government has approved its first enterprise migration agreement (EMA), granted to the Roy Hill iron ore mining project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Mr Bowen announced the agreement during an address to the National Press Club in Canberra.
The agreement with Roy Hill — just one project owned by Australia’s richest woman Gina Rinehart — will allow for over 1,700 workers to be sponsored on the $9.5bn project.
The project is forecast to produce 55 million tonnes of iron ore each year for 20 years, starting in late 2014.
“The EMA will allow Roy Hill to sponsor up to 1,715 workers for the three-year construction phase through the 457 visa programme where they cannot find Australians to fill the positions. It will cover occupations like electricians, mechanical fitters, scaffolders, and boilermakers,” said Mr Bowen.
“The EMA sets out protections to ensure that visaholders engaged on the project receive the same wages and workplace conditions as their Australian counterparts and that those workers are protected under Labor’s Workplace Protection Act.
“The government will ensure that visaholders are aware of their workplace rights and obligations through a specific induction program. The government will soon release a multilingual video that will be shown to overseas workers as part of their induction program on the project.
“Other materials will also be provided directly to visaholders, including contact details for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Fair Work Australia and relevant unions,” he added.
The project will support Australian jobs in the economy through training and apprenticeships, he said.
EMAs were announced in 2011′s federal budget. To be eligible for EMAs, resource projects need to have a planned capital spend of $2 billion and a need for over 1,500 workers.
The government said the EMA with Roy Hill will come into effect shortly.