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NBN Co Limited and 457 Visas

Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications - Senate Estimates - 30 May 2013

Senator Ludlum asked:

I suspect we may come back to this issue later in the evening. I just want to turn to some of the other issues that you mentioned in your opening statement but also come to the issues of contractors and subcontractors, because it is one of the things that was also blamed when the company suffered pretty significant delays that were announced between last December and whenever we were last in Sydney, in March or April. You mentioned a number of 3,650 contractors that had done safety training. Is that the total compliment of sub-contractors working through various companies for NBN Co?

Mr Quigley: I cannot give you the exact number, but our aim is to put every single contractor and subcontractor who works on the NBN through those courses, so I think it would be very close to that number. Obviously, day by day it changes, but that would be roughly the number.

Mr Steffens: Correct.

Senator LUDLAM: How many of those are on 457 visas? Do you have any figures on that?

Mr Quigley: I do not know. I would have to take that one on notice.

Senator LUDLAM: Are you likely to be able to find out? I guess I cannot ask you to judge likeliness, but would your top-tier contractors have that information? If they do, do you know whether they would pass that on to NBN Co?

Mr Quigley: I would have to take that on notice. I do know that there have been some specialised skills that have come in from overseas. For example, ribbon splicing would be an area.

Senator LUDLAM: I could understand why that was the case, because I do not imagine there was a very big jobs market for that in Australia until you turned up.

Senator Conroy: I think we were the first to deploy ribbon fibre.

Senator LUDLAM: There is a lot of skilled labour involved here; there is also a lot of semiskilled labour. Across what categories would you be able to identify the proportion of your workforce that is on those visas?

Mr Quigley: I do not have that-

Senator LUDLAM: I understand you do not have it at the table.

Mr Quigley: We will take it on notice.

Answer:

Due to the total numbers of contractors and sub-contractors working on the project, it is very difficult for NBN Co and its Tier One contractors to collect accurate data on the numbers of workers on 457 Visas at any point in time.

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