Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 August 2015) . . Page.. 2747 ..
particularly focused on the impact of temporary work visa programs on the Australian labour market and on temporary work visa holders, and it included the use of 457 visas.
The inquiry looked at a whole range of issues, such as the wages, conditions, safety and entitlements of Australian workers and temporary work visa holders; the impact of Australia’s temporary work visa programs on training and skills development in Australia; whether temporary work visa holders receive the same wages, conditions, safety and other entitlements as their Australian counterparts or in accordance with the law; and the adequacy of monitoring and enforcement of the temporary work visa programs and their integrity. That is what the Senate inquiry looked at. If anybody in this place wants to claim that looking at those issues is racist, I would be surprised if they were able to make that claim stack up.
Mr Coe interjecting—
MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER: Mr Coe, you are warned.
MR RATTENBURY: The Greens have also expressed their unease at the China-Australia free trade agreement. My federal colleagues have raised, for example, concerns about the liability faced by future governments who could be sued by foreign corporations simply for making laws that protect the public interest. With the text of the agreement heading to the Senate and a joint committee for inquiry, the Greens have said we will scrutinise the text very carefully. The Greens will particularly focus on the unprecedented new temporary unskilled worker entry provisions, the impact on manufacturing workers and the investment and investor-state dispute settlement provisions. There is still some time to go on that process as the committee is currently up to the stage of accepting submissions.
On the issue of racism which has come up today, I find it disturbing that some conservative commentators and members of the Liberal Party claim that raising these issues is racist or xenophobic. This is a low form of politics and, as I said earlier, one that, in the light of discussions about asylum seekers and the like in recent years by members of the conservative parties in Australia, is an extraordinary double standard.
There is nothing wrong with raising concerns about visa conditions, local training, local jobs and the economy. I find the Liberal Party’s suggestion about this campaign being racist to be a particularly egregious one. There are genuine concerns and questions about visas, working conditions and the local employment situation. I know, for example, that members of the opposition locally—Mr Wall, for example—sometimes ask questions about local job opportunities on ACT government projects. There are questions like, “Will local firms be provided with opportunities instead of firms from outside Canberra?” and the like. Those are reasonable questions that bear no relation to racism or xenophobia.To conclude, I simply reiterate that I will not be supporting this motion. As I have said the CFMEU and others can campaign on this and other contentious issues, and I find it a little strange that this Assembly should condemn them for that. There are very interesting policy issues to consider in relation to 457 visas, the visa system more