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Tasmanian Jobs Lost to Overseas Workers

Overseas workers are to be used to build the Musselroe Wind Farm, denying job opportunities for hundreds of people in Tasmania's high unemployment north-east.

Unions Tasmania has learned that State Government-owned Hydro Tasmania—the wind farm owner—wants to bring in workers on 457 and 417 visas to construct the facility.

“Hydro previously committed to 200 jobs for local workers during construction but that promise has vaporised,” said Kevin Harkins, Secretary of Unions Tasmania.

"It is a disgusting betrayal of Tasmania given the state has nearly 8% unemployment and the north-east of the state is particularly hard hit.

"This construction project could provide a lifeline to hundreds of Tasmanian families."

Mr Harkins said wind farm construction company Vestas made it clear to unions in Melbourne yesterday that it intended to import labour using 457 or 417 visas, predominately from Ireland.

“They are claiming a need for a specialised workforce, which is garbage," Mr Harkins said.

"This is about Vestas trying to squeeze a bigger profit margin out of a project funded ultimately by the Tasmanian public.

"Tasmanian workers are more than capable of constructing this wind farm—we have done it before at Woolnorth without a problem.”

Mr Harkins predicted Vestas would seek to classify imported workers to "make them appear specialised, when in fact they may have a lesser qualification than we would normally accept”.

He had requested an urgent meeting with Energy Minister Bryan Green but had not received a response.

"Bryan Green has nowhere to hide on this. He either stands by Tasmanian workers or he doesn't," Mr Harkins said.

"Tasmanians are not going to accept cheap labour being imported when there are plenty of workers here who can do the job."

"Hydro Tasmania must recommit publicly to its previous claim that Tasmanian labour will be used to build this Tasmanian-owned wind farm. Tasmanians will accept nothing less."

More Information - Kevin Harkins: 0419 376 362

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