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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 August 2015) . . Page.. 2744 ..

This free trade agreement has been negotiated over a decade. It has been put together by trade ministers, foreign ministers and members from both sides of the political divide on the hill. But in recent times the labour movement seems to have been moving towards a xenophobic rhetoric. We saw it, unfortunately, with the poles and wires debate during the New South Wales election. The CFMEU came out and attacked the fact that it might be Chinese—how dare they—that would be engaged in leasing poles and wires. It was again a xenophobic campaign that was condemned at that point.

We saw Bill Shorten in front of a union rally. If you look at the pictures from that rally, Madam Deputy Speaker, you will see CFMEU flags front and centre at that rally. It was the sort of rally that harked back to a distant, shameful past with predominantly white men yelling and screaming, and with Bill Shorten at the front rousing the crowd and yelling out, “Last time we had Jap subs they were in bloody Sydney Harbour.” This is the leader of the Labor Party; this is the man that purports to be fit for the office of Prime Minister of Australia. We see pictures of him rabble rousing in front of a bunch of white blokes chanting and yelling, waving flags, many of them CFMEU flags, and screaming out, “Last time we had Jap subs they were in bloody Sydney Harbour.” Shame on him, and shame on any member of this place that supports that sort of campaign, because we are seeing that happening again.

Madam Deputy Speaker, all you need to do is a simple Google search for these sorts of campaigns. You see the union movement with their flags, with their banners and with their signs saying things like, “Don’t sign away Australian sovereignty.” For them, this is not about trade and opportunity; this is about xenophobia. It is disgraceful. It is not good for a government who purports to be supporting growth, supporting jobs and building a relationship with China to be so closely associated with an organisation that is running xenophobic, anti-Chinese campaigns.

Graham Richardson has called on the ALP to de-affiliate themselves from the CFMEU, and there is a very strong argument for that. But rather than that sort of leadership being shown by Mr Barr and any of his colleagues, by saying, “Yes, we’ll stand up for free trade. We’ll stand up for the markets. We’ll stand up for jobs and we’ll stand up against xenophobia wherever we see it,” we see the Labor Party and the Greens in this place locking in behind the CFMEU.

The members here who are funded by the CFMEU, who get tens of thousands of dollars from the CFMEU to fund their Greens and Labor election campaigns, are now going to stand in this place and say, “We are not going to block this xenophobic campaign because we’re funded by the people running that campaign.”

Madam Deputy Speaker, shame on all of you. All I can say to the Chinese students, to the people from China who live in our city, the dual nationals, the people that have come across the seas, the many people with Chinese heritage who are second, third or fourth generation Australians, is that this is not what we believe. This is not what we believe on this side of the chamber. We respect the Chinese people. We want to see a growing relationship between Australia and China, and between Canberra and China. We utterly reject this xenophobic campaign, and so should you.

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