Pol­lies cry racism in de­bate on China deal

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

LA­BOR and the Coali­tion have ac­cused each other of racism as de­bate heats up over the China free trade agree­ment.

But busi­ness has swung its sup­port be­hind the Ab­bott Gov­ern­ment, de­fend­ing the FTA with Aus­tralia’s big­gest trad­ing part­ner and the bil­lions of dol­lars and many jobs it will bring to the econ­omy.

Prime Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott used a speech to an Asian fi­nan­cial fo­rum in Syd­ney yesterday to at­tack La­bor for try­ing to scup­per the deal when it is voted on in Par­lia­ment, de­scrib­ing it as “xeno­pho­bic short- term pol­i­tics”.

Trea­surer Joe Hockey broad­ened the at­tack, telling Op­po­si­tion Leader Bill Shorten not to give in to the “xeno­pho­bic de­mands” of the CFMEU.

“It will cost Aus­tralian fam­i­lies jobs,” he said.

Op­po­si­tion trade spokes­woman Penny Wong re­turned serve, telling the Prime Min­is­ter to stop play­ing the race card.

“La­bor won’t be lec­tured on race by a Lib­eral Gov­ern­ment that re­mains com­mit­ted to pro­tect­ing the rights of big­ots and im­ple­ment­ing a dis­crim­i­na­tory for­eign in­vest­ment scheme that treats Chi­nese and Amer­i­can in­vestors dif­fer­ently,” she said in a state­ment.

But Mr Ab­bott made it clear that the Gov­ern­ment wouldn’t be mak­ing any amend­ments.

He said to amend one part of the FTA will re­open it all, and his Gov­ern­ment won’t do that be­cause it would put Aus­tralian busi­nesses, ex­ports and jobs at risk.

For­mer La­bor for­eign min­is­ter Bob Carr be­lieves that while the unions have le­git­i­mate con­cerns over Aus­tralian jobs, there are many safe­guards in the pro­vi­sions of the FTA and that the ca­pac­ity to bring in for­eign labour would not ap­ply to nor­mal projects.

“They’ve got to test lo­cal mar­kets first to see whether they can find Aus­tralian work­ers,’’ he said.

Na­tional Farm­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Brent Fin­lay be­lieves the FTA is a “game changer”.

“De­lay­ing the agree­ment could cost the agri­cul­tural ex­port trade up to $ 300 mil­lion in 2016 alone,” he said in a state­ment.

Min­ing boss An­drew For­rest hit out at what he de­scribed as “mis­lead­ing” advertising by the CFMEU over the FTA.

“I ask all of us to work against any­thing which does in­cite any kind of racism, any kind of pent- up xeno­pho­bia,” the Fortes­cue Met­als Group chair­man said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.