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Thousands of jobs are in demand with roles like Carpenters, Plumbers, Electrical Mechanics, Electrical Trades Assistants, Crane Operators, Riggers, Doggers, Farmworkers, Pipe layers, and Concretors expected to lead the occupation list for the estimated 4-year construction phase of the massive $34 billion Ichthy gas project in the Northern Territory.
The list which is yet to be finalised is expected to include these jobs that are currently in demand by the project. In addition to this, support services jobs like retail managers, bus drivers, restaurant supervisors, plant operators and chefs may be considered for the list in the “designated area migration agreement”.
According to the Australian Financial Review, the Northern Territory is set to be approved under the first so-called “designated area migration agreement” followed by Western Australia’s Pilbara.
The agreements are designed to free up businesses outside the resources industry to hire semi-skilled workers without having to meet the strict language, salary and training requirement of other migration programs.
A spokesman for Assistant Immigration Minister Michaelia Cash said the Territory agreement would be in place shortly and the Pilbara deal “should be in place by the end of the year”.
The Australian Financial Review reports that draft guidelines propose that state governments, local councils and chambers of commerce will be able to sponsor the agreements, nominating the employers who can participate.
Employers will be able to seek concessions on English-language requirements, skills benchmarks and minimum salaries.
The Northern Territory government has been working with the federal government on the plan, and a spokesman said they wanted the agreements implemented as soon as possible.
It is reported that up to 10,000 people will be employed at the LNG plant site south-west of Darwin, where Inpex is mid-way through building a 8.4 million tonne per year plant.
NT chamber of commerce chief executive Greg Bicknell said locals were flocking to the gas project en masse, leaving Darwin’s other businesses desperately short of staff at all levels.
“A designated area migration ¬agreement was to expand the 457 visa program to enable people to be brought in under a wider range of occupations,” he said.
“There is some scope to have some flexibility in English language requirements, also in skill levels.”
Mr Bicknell said this was important because as skilled workers were gobbled up by the project, crippling vacancies had emerged at the semi-skilled and unskilled level.
Ms Cash’s spokesman said any designated area migration agreement will “supplement rather than substitute Australian workers”.
A briefing quietly posted online by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection says once a migration agreement is in place, it will allow a designated area representative to endorse an employer to participate.
“An employer can sponsor an overseas worker for up to four years,” the briefing says. “These agreements are tailored to suit the employer’s circumstances, including the number of overseas workers and the occupations to be filled.”
There are 12,000 people worldwide currently working on the $US34 billion Ichthys project.

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