Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 August 2015) . . Page.. 2737 ..
So there is the third myth smashed. Myth 4 is that the agreement will allow businesses to import dangerous substances such as asbestos. There is a good one. False is the reality. The agreement will not make any changes to Australia’s safety regulations or import-export prohibitions.
The fifth myth is that that the China-Australia free trade agreement will allow food importers to bypass Australia’s food safety processes and import contaminated foods such as berries. Again false. The agreement does not affect Australia’s science-based biosecurity system.
What we have is an entirely dishonest campaign based on fear, based on playing the race card and based on the most base of actions by the CFMEU. The free trade agreement is an excellent outcome for Australia. Let me look at the recent figures released by Tourism Research Australia and read from their report on international visitors in Australia for the year ending March 2015:
Across our top 5 markets, China continues to lead growth. China’s trip spend increased by 25% to $6.4 billion. China now accounts for 20% of all trip spend by international visitors to Australia—up from 7% ten years ago … Visitor numbers and nights from China have also increased significantly, both up 19% to 829,000 and 36 million nights respectively. Visitor numbers and spend were also up for most other key markets:
If we go back to what the Chief Minister says in his statement about why he was in Beijing earlier this year, we see it was to look at things like tourism, education and business and to encourage cultural exchange. We have the opportunity, members, to stand up for that today.
It is interesting that most commentators have come out against the CFMEU. ACTU President Ged Kearney gave the game away back in November. Let me quote from a press release when the unions first mounted their scare campaign. “It is very difficult not to sound xenophobic,” she conceded. And xenophobic they are.
We must not fall to this. We must say as a united Assembly that we will not stand for xenophobia in any form in this country, and certainly not in this city, when we have a great relationship with the people of China and coming up next month is the 15th anniversary of our relationship with Beijing in particular.
It is interesting to read the articles that covered this debate. Labor Party figures have disowned this disgraceful campaign. Michael Costa slammed the CFMEU campaign, pointing out that its members in the coal industry are relying on Chinese money. I quote:
“It’s disgraceful, it’s completely disgraceful. It’s just absurd,” Mr Costa said.
“Every day there are ships going out of the port of Newcastle that have had CFMEU labour—involved in loading, and delivering that product, heading off to China. It’s not only disgraceful advertising, it is damaging to the national interest and, more importantly, they are shooting themselves in the foot. They are damaging their own members …