The Courier-Mail

Palaszczuk supports trade deal with China

- STEVEN SCOTT

ANNASTACIA Palaszczuk has joined other Labor premiers in backing the China Free Trade deal in a move that adds to pressure on Bill Shorten to do the same.

The Premier urged Prime Minister Tony Abbott to sit down with the Opposition Leader to agree on a bipartisan position on the trade deal, due to be finalised this year.

But she was more muted in support of the deal compared with other Labor leaders and former PM Bob Hawke.

“Of course I support the free trade agreement with China,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“However, I do understand there are some concerns out there in the community about protecting Australian jobs.”

Unions have warned the free trade deal could cost jobs and want Mr Shorten to revisit provisions that allow Chinese companies to import workers if Labor wins the next election.

Former Trade Minister Simon Crean, who helped negotiate the China free trade deal, said “it should be owned by the Labor Party”.

Mr Abbott said Labor was split on the free trade deal and warned Mr Shorten was “keeping pretty dodgy company” by backing union leaders’ fears.

“The only people who are opposing the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement are the CFMEU, the ACTU and Bill Shorten,” Mr Abbott said.

Mr Shorten said he was “on the same page” as Labor premiers and other party figures who had backed the deal. But he demanded Mr Abbott provide greater protection­s for Australian jobs by ensuring Chinese companies had to prove there were labour shortages before bringing in workers.

He said this could be done through legislatio­n and the trade deal would not need to be changed.

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