Racist slur on China FTA

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

LAST week in Townsville we saw the fu­ture and the past at one event. We saw the Austrade Free Trade Agree­ment ( FTA) road show, help­ing peo­ple get their foot in the door to grow their busi­nesses in­ter­na­tion­ally, and we saw a union cam­paign de­signed to point the fin­ger at the Chi­nese and scare peo­ple with racist taunts.

The Austrade of­fi­cials ex­plained how to es­tab­lish a re­la­tion­ship with busi­ness peo­ple in China, Ja­pan, and Korea, to an ea­ger and en­gaged au­di­ence. Austrade was there, at my in­vi­ta­tion, to help Townsville grow our busi­nesses through gi­ant economies.

Com­pare that to the scenes out­side where union mem­bers and hang­er­son stood around and shouted slo­gans which were plainly anti- China, an­ti­jobs, and anti- Townsville. This is a pointer to­wards the next elec­tion where La­bor will run a huge scare cam­paign, based solely on fear. I say solely be­cause they can­not be pro jobs if they are against these FTAs.

The Chi­nese FTA alone is pre­dicted to add $ 17 bil­lion to our econ­omy. So, while La­bor’s can­di­date was



these stand­ing out the front protest­ing against jobs and in­vest­ment com­ing into our re­gion, busi­nesses in­side were hear­ing about how to grasp these op­por­tu­ni­ties and grow.

It is clear that La­bor and the unions are sim­ply not telling the truth. Depart­ment of Trade of­fi­cials have stated: “What we won’t do is al­low the labour stan­dards and job se­cu­rity of Aus­tralians to be un­der­mined by a weak­en­ing of the test­ing pro­vi­sions in terms of guest worker pro­vi­sions in this coun­try. We be­lieve Aus­tralia is smart enough to im­prove our trade with China but also not sell out Aus­tralian jobs and the con­di­tions of Aus­tralian work­ers.”

The depart­ment slammed as com­pletely false the ar­gu­ment from the ETU that Chi­nese elec­tri­cians could work on projects in Aus­tralia with­out hav­ing their skills as­sessed be­fore­hand. Union claims that the Chi­nese can im­port as­bestos or other dan­ger­ous prod­ucts are just not true and must be called out for what they are – racist at­tacks.

Surely the po­lit­i­cally sim­ple ques­tion to ask is why would any Gov­ern- ment sign up to a clause which alien­ated and dis­qual­i­fied its own vot­ing public? It just does not make sense.

I see a fu­ture where Townsville acts as a hub for in­ter­na­tional in­vest­ment and trade. A Townsville where peo­ple want­ing to work can get a job and be well paid. A Townsville which is proud to play its part on the in­ter­na­tional stage. A Townsville which em­braces these FTAs and squeezes all the ben­e­fits they bring.

EWEN JONES, Fed­eral Mem­ber for Herbert.

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