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Labor’s Migration Act amendments are no antidote to flawed ChAFTA agreement

Media Release
Peter Whish-Wilson 13 Oct 2015

The Greens spokesperson for Trade, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, says that Labor’s proposed Migration Act amendments do not provide sufficient protections for workers, nor are they are a justification for passing this deal.

Senator Whish-Wilson said, “If we had an open and inclusive trade treaty process the passing of ChAFTA into legislation would not be in such a political mess.

"Labor’s proposed amendments are simply playing around the edges, and are insufficient to stop the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) from driving down Australian wages and working conditions.

“By not attempting to fix Chapter 10 of ChAFTA Labor is accepting the need to remove labour market testing for contractual service providers. This covers a wide range of occupations, from IT technicians to cleaners.

“Labor may have sought to increase the wage threshold for Chinese contractual service providers, but in many circumstances this will still be well below Australian award rates.

“While Labor’s amendments are somewhat of an improvement, they are still not giving any indication if they will pass ChAFTA in the event that the government does not formally agree to these legislative amendments in the house.

“Just because Labor are in opposition, it does not absolve the Labor MPs of their responsibility when they support these sorts of flawed agreements.

“The Greens still have concerns that CHAFTA has no dedicated environment or labour chapter unlike other trade deals our country has signed.

 

“ChAFTA includes an open-ended Investor-State Dispute-Settlement (ISDS) clause. Labor cannot on one hand say that it oppose ISDS, while on the other hand use its place in parliament to vote these clauses into reality,” he concluded.

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