• High Court decision upholds visa system for seafarers protecting job security and conditions
  • Senator Michaelia Cash tried to introduce a new visa to subvert the 457 system
  • Unions argued the ministerial exemption was an abuse of process and the High Court agreed

A federal government attempt to undercut the wages and conditions of Australian seafarers has been quashed by the High Court.

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the Australian Maritime Officer’s Union (AMOU) successfully argued then-assistant immigration minister Michaelia Cash overstepped her responsibility when she tried to subvert the skilled labour visa.

The government had originally failed to pass legislation in 2014 removing the requirement for offshore oil and gas workers to have 457 visas, a move unions said would cost local jobs.

Senator Cash then announced workers could use a Maritime Crew Visa instead of a 457 skilled labour visa. This move was this week  struck out by the High Court with five judges ruling unanimously that it was an abuse of process.

Both the MUA and the AMOU heralded the win for Australian workers. 

"Today is a fantastic day that again has reinforced and confirmed our right to work in our industry," said Will Tracey, MUA Deputy National Secretary.

"The High Court has backed in the right for seafarers today and should also send a signal to the Australian Government, Michaelia Cash and Peter Dutton in particular, that they should listen to the will of the Senate, the courts and the people." 

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