Question Time: Trade with China, Japan and South Korea

  • Transcript, E&OE
10 September 2015

Mr VASTA (Bonner) (14:17): My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the minister update the House on the effect the export agreements with China, Japan and South Korea will have on Australian jobs? What threats are there to the realisation of these benefits?

Ms JULIE BISHOP (Curtin–Minister for Foreign Affairs) (14:17): I thank the member for Bonner for his question. As he knows, all three of our North Asian free trade agreements are an investment in Australian jobs and an investment in the future of the prosperity of our nation.

Independent modelling shows the three free trade agreements with China, Japan and Korea are worth over $24 billion in total additional income to Australia between 2016 and 2035. It shows that the agreements will result in an annual boost to the economy of $2.4 billion over the next 20 years. It shows that, under these agreements, there will be an increase in wages and jobs for Australians, yet Labor opposes the China free trade agreement and the jobs it will bring. The Leader of the Opposition seems to have signed up to a union campaign along the lines that unskilled Chinese workers will steal Australian jobs.

Well, they have been called out today by no less than Warren Mundine, a former president of the Australian Labor Party. It is worth reading the article that was published in The Australian Financial Review, because you should squirm. As Warren Mundine said:

Like protectionist arguments of old, the campaign is dressed up in economics–protecting Australian jobs. It's a nonsense argument built on misinformation and lies. And federal Labor is indulging it.

He goes on:

The clear message–ChAFTA will flood Australia with Chinese workers destroying Australian jobs and the Chinese are not to be trusted. It's an antagonistic, "them against us" message, pandering to xenophobia.

He goes on:

The anti-ChAFTA campaign makes false claims about safety standards, workplace conditions and migration laws being eroded.

But, as Jan Adams, the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said in her evidence to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties:

… the China free trade agreement will not allow unrestricted access to the Australian labour market by Chinese workers. It will not allow Australian employment laws or conditions to be undermined, and it will not allow companies to avoid paying Australian wages by using foreign workers.

But I think the words of Warren Mundine should resonate with all on this side of the House when we look at the shameful, gormless creatures on the other side:

… the bigoted anti-ChAFTA campaign makes me deeply angry. It's embarrassing watching Labor dance around why they oppose ChAFTA when they didn't oppose similar deals with other countries; or why the labour-market testing regime isn't good enough for Chinese companies when it's good enough for everyone else.

As he said:

If ChAFTA fails it will be an act of vandalism by Labor against Australia's economy and Australia-China relations. Labor says it's "on the side of the angels" on this–

More like Hells Angels!

It's not. It is dancing with the devil–

(Time expired)

Media enquiries