Labor agrees to China trade deal

Labor has agreed to support the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

Done deal … Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the deal delivered “proper” legal safeguards and protections for Australian jobs. Picture: Supplied

THE China-Australia Free Trade Agreement looks set to be passed in Parliament, with the Labor Party announcing it will support the legislation.

Labor Leader Bill Shorten and Shadow Trade and Investment Minister Penny Wong said, in a joint media conference today, the Opposition had reached an agreement with the Turnbull Government which would allow for “speedy passage” of the ChAFTA.

Senator Wong said the ALP had attained most of the amendments they were seeking.

She said one of the changes to be enshrined in law was “market salary rate requirements” for workers on 457 visas.

Government endorsed decision ... Labor Senator Penny Wong said the safeguards were “comprehensive”. Picture: AAP/Mick Tsikas

Government endorsed decision … Labor Senator Penny Wong said the safeguards were “comprehensive”. Picture: AAP/Mick TsikasSource:AAP

New 457 visa conditions requiring workers to, where appropriate, obtain a trade licence within 90 days of arriving in Australia were also agreed.

The Opposition’s third demand, labour market testing, means employers will be required to show they previously tried to employ a suitable Australian citizen or permanent resident for any job filled by a 457 worker.

Mr Shorten said the changes would help ensure Australian wages and conditions were used as a benchmark for employing temporary workers.

“It is a good day today because Labour I believe has achieved, through constructive negotiation, through community concern and through our good dialogue of sensible proposals, greater protection for Australian jobs,” he said.

Benefit to Australia ... Australian Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb said it was a “spectacular outcome”. Picture: EPA/ERIK S. LESSER

Benefit to Australia … Australian Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb said it was a “spectacular outcome”. Picture: EPA/ERIK S. LESSERSource:AAP

Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb said it was a “spectacular outcome” that would benefit the country for “decades to come”.

“I think the Chinese are enormously proud of the agreement,” he said.

“They were able to demonstrate to the world, really, the developed world in particular, that they were capable of making a world-class, high-quality extensive free trade agreement with a developed country and an exporter for that matter, so that has been a great result.

“ I believe, and it is very, very important for the country, for Australians, it’s very important for the opportunities and literally the hundreds of thousands of jobs that over the years ahead will flow from this agreement.

“And it’s very important for the confidence that needs to be imbued into the business sector in Australia so that we can do what we have to do to capture the opportunities that are emerging in a most amazing way on our doorstep.”

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