Page 3433 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 23 September 2015

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Discussion also focused on the opportunities presented following the recent completion of negotiations for a China-Australia free trade agreement. The agreement presents major trade and export opportunities in the tourism, education, health care and professional services sectors.

But now it would appear that we want to change that. It is surprising that we go this way.

There were more 457 visa holders in Australia under the ALP government than there are now. It did not seem to be a problem then. There were about 110,000. It is about 100,000 now. It did not seem to be a problem then but suddenly with this agreement it is a problem. I am not sure where the Chief Minister is coming from on this.

I read out some more of what Mr Robb’s office kindly provided me:

A separate memorandum of understanding with China on investment facilitation agreements reflects the IFAs, reflects the government’s focus on strengthening infrastructure development and attracting investment.

Isn’t that what Mr Barr said? He said that he would look at infrastructure development, high priorities of transport reform and ongoing urban renewal and attracting investment and supporting the creation of jobs and increasing the economic prosperity for all Australians.

The information on the agreement goes on:

… the IFA MOU provides Chinese companies making infrastructure investments in Australia in excess of $150 million with greater certainty in workforce planning by ensuring that any estimated labour shortage can be met through temporary foreign workers where suitable local workers cannot be found.

So you have got to look locally before you can bring other workers in. It also states that under IFAs Australian workers will be given first opportunity and:

… employers will not be permitted to bring in overseas skilled workers unless there is clear evidence of a genuine labour market need, as determined by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

So the things that the Chief Minister seeks—and I just assume he is being forced by his party room to do so—are not necessary. They are already covered. The protections are there in the agreement and it is a shame we are going to attempt to modify this.

The opposition will not be supporting the modification. It is not required. I think it undermines all of the words that the minister has previously said. I think there is a legal question there as to whether, if you have got a signed agreement, you can then legislate to change and what that means to our international standing.

In a rare thing for me, I am going to finish by also quoting Gough Whitlam. It is a point that Ms Carnell made when we had this debate 15 years ago. People should go

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