Labor’s China FTA safeguards will help save local jobs

Today Labor outlined how we will help save Central Victorian jobs by proposing amendments to the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) to safeguard local jobs, said Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters MP.

“The new safeguards will allow Australian exporters and consumers to reap the benefits of ChAFTA while ensuring the trade deal does not jeopardise Central Victorian jobs or employment opportunities for young and local workers,” said Ms Chesters. 

“These safeguards are critical and demonstrate Labor is listening to Central Victoria. 

“I’ve received hundreds of emails, letters and phone calls from constituents concerned the ChAFTA will cost local jobs. 

“The Liberal Government’s current ChAFTA deal allows employers to hire 457 visa workers without having to advertise jobs for local workers first. That’s simply unfair and wrong. 

“It also abolishes mandatory skills assessments for important trade occupations. 

“I know from talking to local tradies and businesses how alarmed they have been that the Liberal Government is even proposing this. 

“Labor will tackle these shortcomings by moving amendments to the Government’s ChAFTA legislation that is currently before Parliament House. 

“Our amendments will introduce new safeguards into the 457 visa system including:

  • Requiring employers entering Investment Facilitation Arrangement work agreements under ChAFTA to advertise jobs locally before turning to overseas workers;
  • Increasing the minimum base rate of pay for 457 visa workers to $57,000 a year;
  • Requiring 457 visa workers in trades like electrical work or plumbing obtain the relevant occupational licence or registration within 60 days of arriving in Australia.

 “These safeguards will help save local jobs, support Australian wages and conditions, maintain workplace skills and safety standards, and deter exploitation of overseas workers.

 “Without these safeguards, there is no guarantee that these jobs will be offered to locals first.

 “To be frank, the Liberal Government has no plan to create and secure jobs in Bendigo and Central Victoria.

“That’s why last month I launched a petition calling the Liberal Government to help save local jobs (http://www.lisachesters.org/save_our_local_jobs). 

“I would like to encourage locals to sign the petition as it calls on the Liberal Government to safeguard Australian jobs under any Free Trade Agreement. 

“Help us demonstrate to the Liberal Government that Central Victorians want to see action on this issue and that they want the Government to agree to Labor’s proposed safeguards,” said Ms Chesters. 

Today in Canberra Labor released an exposure draft of its proposed amendments along with explanatory materials for comment from stakeholders and the public. A summary of the details of the amendments are available at www.alp.org.au/chinaftasafeguards 

Labor’s responsible stance on ChAFTA means the only barrier to the agreement entering into force with safeguards for jobs is the Turnbull Liberal Government.