Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to prematurely introduce enabling legislation for the China Australia Free Trade Agreement, just a day after the calculated political execution of his former boss, shows the depth of his capacity for treachery, according to a major trade union.
Electrical Trades Union national secretary Allen Hicks said the introduction the Customs Amendment (China-Australia Free Trade Agreement Implementation) Bill 2015 today made a mockery of the Prime Minister’s commitment to be more consultative and confirmed the Liberal Party’s intent to sign off on a deal that would lock Australian workers out of job opportunities.
“Yesterday we saw Malcolm Turnbull knife his boss, then turn around and talk about being more consultative,” Mr Hicks said.
“Today, he has prematurely introduced ChAFTA legislation before either of the parliamentary committees looking at this deal are even close to delivering their reports.”
The legislation and explanatory documents tabled confirm the negative impact the deal will have on Australian jobs, including another explicit commitment against labour market testing — a process that would ensure Australians are given the first chance to apply for jobs.
“It’s there in black and white in this bill, as it is in the agreement itself,” Mr Hicks said.
“Paragraph 160 of the explanatory memorandum for the Customs Amendment (China-Australia Free Trade Agreement Implementation) Bill 2015 confirms Australia’s commitment to disallow labour market testing for ‘contractual service suppliers’, which are defined in the agreement as ‘natural persons of China with trade or technical qualifications’.
“This Liberal Government is hell-bent on legislating away its ability to ensure Australians have the opportunity to apply for jobs in Australia.
“At a time when there are 800,000 Australians out of work, and Mr Turnbull’s government has doubled the deficit and sold out Aussie industry, this is a bridge too far.”
Mr Hicks said that it would be in the nation’s best interest, as well as Mr Turnbull’s, to reach a compromise that allowed tariff reductions as well as protecting Australian’s employment rights.
“If the era of captains’ calls and repeated refusals to negotiate is over, we should be able to sit down and find a way to resolve this,” he said.
“But so far it looks as though the new Prime Minister is determined to keep treading Abbott’s path.”
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