Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb says xenophobic elements of the union movement are jeopardising Australia’s future growth and prosperity by continuing to spread blatant lies about the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).

“Our economic relationship with China is responsible – directly and indirectly – for hundreds of thousands of Australian jobs.  By perpetuating myths about ChAFTA and demonising China, Labor’s union mates are threatening the very jobs they claim to be concerned about,” Mr Robb said.

Mr Robb said the CFMEU, the ETU, the AMWU and the ACTU are wilfully peddling out-and-out lies regarding labour market testing and skills requirements for workers seeking temporary 457 visas.

“We can certainly expect to see the unions ramp-up their rhetoric this week, as they attempt to create a distraction while their mate Bill Shorten fronts the Royal Commission into union corruption, to answer questions about deals he struck as the boss of the AWU.

“But while the unions are busy spreading lies about overseas workers, let’s not forget that Penny Wong herself said just a few weeks ago, and I quote: ‘temporary migration to fill skill shortages is a sensible proposition’.

“So Bill Shorten needs to call-off his union attack dogs and put a stop to the deceptive ‘robocalls’, advertisements and push polls in Coalition-held marginal seats across Australia, that are using inflammatory language to create fear in the electorate,” Mr Robb said.

These are the facts:

  • Under ChAFTA, a Chinese company investing more than $150 million in specific types of Australian infrastructure projects MUST USE AUSTRALIAN WORKERS, unless it can prove that there are no qualified Australian workers to do the job.
  • Even then, an investor may only be approved to bring in a limited number of qualified workers with the specific skills required for a limited period of time.
  • These are the same major project provisions that Labor introduced when in office.
  • The FTA DOES NOT CHANGE the skills and experience requirements that need to be met by a skilled worker applying for a temporary skilled visa to work in Australia.
  • Applicants will still be required to demonstrate to the Immigration Department that they possess the requisite skills and experience to work in this country.
  • This includes evidence of identity, work history, qualifications, memberships of relevant bodies or associations, references and documents showing English language skills etc.
  • An additional skills assessment from a registered training organisation approved by Trades Recognition Australia will be conducted if further verification is required by the Immigration Department.
  • This brings China into line with many of our other major trading partners including the United States, Korea, Japan, Poland, Chile, Germany, Singapore, New Zealand, Somalia and the U.K.

“ChAFTA will open up huge opportunities for our resources, agriculture, manufacturing and service industries.  It’s time the unions supported the agreement which will create thousands upon thousands of jobs, leading to growth and prosperity for generations of Australians for decades to come,” Mr Robb said.

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