ABC ‘Fact Check’ needs a reality check

13 August 2015
Andrew Robb
Minister for Trade and Investment

A ‘verdict’ by ABC’s ‘Fact Check’ that our landmark China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) allows Chinese companies to bring in workers for major projects without offering the jobs to Australian workers first is dead wrong.

These are the real facts:

  • Investment Facilitation Arrangements (IFA) negotiated in parallel to ChAFTA will not reduce existing migration safeguards or permit overseas workers to work in Australia in preference to Australians.
  • The IFA does not commit Australia to any concessions to existing 457 visa requirements. It is simply an overarching framework under which Australia has undertaken to consider requests for sponsorship of overseas workers in circumstances where it is proven that there are no qualified Australian workers available.
  • Doing so provides certainty for companies wishing to make large investments in Australia that they will be able to recruit the workforce they need for very large projects, noting that certainty of workforce is a key risk consideration for investors.
  • If a company is approved for an IFA there are significant conditions that must be satisfied before a single overseas worker can be recruited. The project agreement guidelines stipulate that employers must demonstrate a labour market need and prove that Australians have been provided first opportunity through labour market testing, that is providing evidence of significant recruiting efforts.
  • There is also a mandatory requirement for the company to consult stakeholders throughout this process, including unions.
  • The labour provisions associated with ChAFTA sit within our existing skilled visa program hence why not a single new piece of legislation will be required.

ABC ‘Fact Check’ of course has a dubious track record of so-called ‘verdicts’ against the Coalition. It once used the costing of Greens paid parental leave policy to falsely claim it represented Coalition policy.

It also discredited comments by the Treasurer about government borrowing levels despite them being verified by independent experts, who the ABC themselves consulted.

Any suggestion that the government would enter any agreement that deprives Australians of the first opportunity for jobs is simply ludicrous.

Our Free Trade Agreement with China is about creating thousands of new jobs for Australians and perversely the most militant elements of the union movement are trying to stop it as part of an aggressive, dishonest, anti-Chinese campaign.

Sadly, ABC ‘Fact Check’ has been sucked in to this orbit.

Courtesy of the Hon Andrew Robb AO MP

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