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Monday, 9 November 2015
Page: 8008


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (17:27): On the same subject, I wondered if the minister could also indicate to me if these rules, particularly for 457 visas, have been consistent for a number of years. I am not sure if the minister will be able to answer this, but was there labour market testing for the celebrated case of a 457 visa applicant who ended up working in the office of a Prime Minister a few years ago. I am wondering what the market testing arrangements were back then and whether they are the same now under the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement? I am curious to understand the correlation between the testing that was required some years ago, which I am sure the Greens political party would have, as well, raised as issues at the time. I am curious—but I am not sure if the minister will be able to give me information from back in the time of another government—as to what labour market testing there was. Are we led to believe that there was not another single person in the whole of Australia who could run the Prime Minister's office at the time? That is one part of my question to the minister.

Senator Whish-Wilson: I raise a point of order, Mr Temporary Chairman. It is just a process issue. I asked a question of the minister, and I am wondering how you put precedence on questions, because I think that Senator Macdonald is asking several here. I want to highlight that I had asked a question.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN ( Senator Back ): There is no point of order, Senator Whish-Wilson. The question is relevant to what you were asking, and when Senator Macdonald finishes his contribution we will call on the minister.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I apologise to Senator Whish-Wilson. It was germane to his question, and I thought that, when the minister was answering Senator Whish-Wilson's question, she might be able, as part of that, to answer my questions as well. The other thing that the minister may or may not be able to assist with is whether the visa arrangements under the China free trade agreement are similar to those in the free trade agreements that were entered into during the period from 2007 to 2013—that is, the time of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd governments. I do not think that there were many free trade agreements, but I have a suspicion that one of the South American countries entered into one at that time—perhaps it was the Mexican free trade agreement. I am wondering, for the sake of comparison, whether the arrangements under the China free trade agreement are similar to those that applied in other cases or whether there has been a change.