Senate debates

Thursday, 20 August 2015


China-Australia Free Trade Agreement

12:23 pm

Photo of John MadiganJohn Madigan (Victoria, Independent) Share this | Hansard source

I, and also on behalf of Senator Xenophon, move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes:

(i) the importance of trade with China to the Australian economy,

(ii) that on 17 June 2015, Australia's Minister for Trade and Investment (Mr Robb) and China's Minister of Commerce (Mr Gao Hucheng) signed the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA),

(iii) that Article 10.4 of ChAFTA, in combination with other provisions, removes the requirement for Chinese companies operating in Australia to carry out 'labour market testing', 'economic needs testing' or 'other procedures of similar effect' before nominating foreign workers on temporary 457 work visas,

(iv) that a letter from the Minister for Trade and Investment to Mr Hucheng, dated 17 June 2015, which is stated to form part of ChAFTA, removes requirements for mandatory skills assessments for Chinese nationals entering Australia on certain types of temporary 457 work visas for ten occupations, including automotive electricians, general electricians and motor mechanics,

(v) that Chapter 9 of ChAFTA includes Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions of the type that have been utilised by foreign companies to bring claims against governments for legislative changes made for legitimate public purposes, such as the current claim by Phillip Morris against the Australian Government seeking compensation in relation to tobacco plain packaging legislation, and

(vi) that these aspects of ChAFTA are contrary to the national interest as they will cost Australian jobs, undermine the regulatory framework that ensures the safety of Australian worksites, and constrain the legislative process; and

(b) calls on the Government to renegotiate ChAFTA so as to remove these aspects of the agreement, or, alternatively, to abandon the agreement by not ratifying it.


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