TOPIC: CHINA FTA
Labor will support Australian jobs, wages and workplace skills and safety standards with a comprehensive package of safeguards around the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).
The new safeguards will allow Australian exporters and consumers to secure the benefits of ChAFTA while ensuring the trade deal does not jeopardise employment opportunities for Australian workers.
Boosting Australia’s trading relationship with China is critical to our nation’s economic future.
However, the deal brought home by the Abbott-Turnbull Government has significant shortcomings and has raised widespread community concern.
The Abbott-Turnbull deal allows employers to hire 457 visa workers without having to advertise jobs for local workers first.
It also abolishes mandatory skills assessments for important trades occupations.
Labor will tackle these shortcomings by moving amendments to the Government’s ChAFTA enabling legislation.
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 to obtain the relevant occupational licence or registration within 60 days of arriving in Australia.
These safeguards will support local job opportunities, support Australian wages and conditions, maintain workplace skills and safety standards, and deter exploitation of overseas workers.
Labor’s safeguards are complementary to ChAFTA: they will not breach the agreement, they will not require it to be renegotiated and they will not discriminate against Chinese workers or companies – in fact they will improve protections for Chinese and other 457 visa workers in Australia.
Labor has today 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.