Santos pushes for visa changes to avoid resources sector wage war

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SANTOS has called on the government to use the budget on Tuesday to fix the ''enormous'' labour shortages facing the resources sector.

At a politically-charged annual meeting, the chairman of the oil and gas giant, Peter Coates, said companies needed ''easy access'' to foreign labour to prevent a wages war between the Queensland and West Australian resource hubs.

Officials are working on a plan to recruit up to 30,000 workers from India to help supply the resources sector through a training program.

Mr Coates said Santos had been working with the government on changing rules around the visas that allow skilled workers to enter Australia on the short term.

''They're looking at 457 visa schemes … for projects over $1 billion, and we would fall into that category,'' he told the Santos meeting.

Mr Coates has been named as an independent director of the Swiss company Glencore, which will have an estimated $10 billion public float. He used the meeting yesterday to quash speculation he was poised to take a larger role at Glencore.

Shareholders repeatedly asked about the company's decision in December to cut dividends from 20¢ to 15¢ and to dilute shareholder ownership to help pay for the $16 billion Gladstone liquefied natural gas project.

Mr Coates said the money had to be raised quickly and the company vowed to make any further equity-raising available to all shareholders.

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