Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters MP, today welcomes the announcement the Liberal Government has agreed to Labor’s proposed Free Trade Agreement safeguards which will help protect local Bendigo jobs.
“There has been widespread concern that the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s China-Australia Free Trade Agreement would erode job opportunities, wages and conditions, and threaten workplace skills and safety standards.
“I know from the number of local people who have contacted me just how concerned locals have been about the lack of safeguards in the Liberal Government’s original ChAFTA deal.
“From the beginning I have been a strong voice in Parliament and in the community about the need for stronger safeguards to protect and secure local jobs,” said Ms Chesters.
Labor has addressed each of these concerns by securing new safeguards including:
- Labour market testing requirements extended to all migration work agreements, including Investment Facilitation Arrangements under ChAFTA;
- Support for Australian wage and conditions by extending the market salary rate requirement for 457 visa workers to include meeting wage rates under enterprise bargaining agreements;
- Requiring 457 visa workers in trades like electrical work or plumbing to obtain the relevant occupational licence or registration within 90 days of arriving in Australia to safeguard occupational skills and safety standards.
“These safeguards will be written into migration law – ensuring they are legally binding across the whole temporary skilled migration program.
“Additional safeguards have also been achieved. These include new requirements on employers entering work agreements, a review of the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold and greater transparency over the work agreement stream of the 457 visa program.
“Currently, too many local jobs are going to 457 visa workers and other temporary visa workers. The Liberal Government must guarantee that Bendigo locals are offered jobs before 457 or 417 visa workers.
“Labor’s safeguards mean Australian exporters and consumers can secure the benefits of ChAFTA while ensuring the trade deal does not jeopardise jobs for Australian workers.”