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Thursday, 17 September 2015
Page: 7164

Trade with China


Senator REYNOLDS (Western Australia) (14:37): My question is to the Assistant Minister for Education and Training, Senator Birmingham. Will the minister inform the Senate of how the China-Australia free trade agreement will protect Australian jobs and will still require foreign workers in Australia to meet Australian standards?


Senator BIRMINGHAM (South AustraliaAssistant Minister for Education and Training) (14:38): I thank Senator Reynolds for her question about the job creation of the China-Australia free trade agreement.

Senator Whish-Wilson interjecting

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator BIRMINGHAM: I hear the interjections coming from Senator Whish-Wilson and others over there. I reflect on the question that Senator Whish-Wilson asked before, in which he was quibbling over the number of jobs that the China-Australia free trade agreement would create. But what he was not disputing was that jobs will be created and that there will be more jobs. My question to Senator Whish-Wilson, to the Greens, to the Labor Party and to everybody else is: why are they against jobs? Why are they against the fact that the China-Australia free trade agreement will create many more jobs?

The proof is there—as Senator Payne rightly said—in the fact that since New Zealand signed their free trade agreement with China, New Zealand's trade exports to China have gone up five times, as Senator Back said. They have quintupled. In comparison, Australia has basically doubled in that time. New Zealand's FTA has demonstrated that it a good FTA with China delivers more trade, more exports and more jobs.

It does that right around Australia and across industries around Australia: in agriculture; in resources and energy; in services, like education, aged care and other services exports and in advanced manufacturing. It does that right around Australia geographically, in states like Senator Reynolds'—Western Australia—where there will be great benefits and in localities like the electorate of Canning, where there will be great benefits and there will be more jobs for Australians because of the increased exports and trade from the China-Australia free trade agreement.

Senator Reynolds also asked whether it was still require foreign workers working in Australia to meet Australian standards. The simple answer to that is: yes, it will require workers to meet exactly the same standards as anybody else in Australia. (Time expired)



Senator REYNOLDS (Western Australia) (14:40): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister update the Senate on the benefits of the China-Australia free trade agreement, particularly for growth in jobs in the trades?


Senator BIRMINGHAM (South AustraliaAssistant Minister for Education and Training) (14:40): The benefits are immense. The benefits are immense because China already buys around one-third of Australia's exports, valued at nearly $98 billion in 2014. It is our top overseas markets for agriculture, for resources and for services. The opportunity is there, in the world's most populous economy, to grow in all of those different industries. Chinese investment in Australia has been growing strongly in recent years, reaching almost $65 billion in 2014.

The opportunities exist for more Chinese investment in Australia, creating more jobs and more industries in Australia, as well as more Chinese purchasing of Australian goods. That means there will be more jobs. That is the good news for Australians. It is a mystery as to why Senator Wong and all those opposite stand against the job creation that the China-Australia free trade agreement will bring to all Australians.


Senator REYNOLDS (Western Australia) (14:41): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister also inform the Senate of how the China-Australia free trade agreement streamlines the administrative pathway for Australian workers in certain occupations to work in China?


Senator BIRMINGHAM (South AustraliaAssistant Minister for Education and Training) (14:41): This is an important aspect of the China-Australia free trade agreement: Australians will have improved access to be able to work in China. That is because China is—as we all accept—a much bigger and a much bigger market than Australia, so the opportunities for skilled Australians to be able to access those chances in China are immense.

Specifically, China will provide a guaranteed access to Australian citizens and permanent residents in the following categories: intracorporate transferees for up to three years, including executives, managers and specialists; contractual service suppliers in certain sectors for one year or longer if stipulated under the relevant contract; installers and maintainers for up to 180 days and business visitors for up to 180 days. For the first time in any free trade agreement, China will guarantee equivalent entry and stay for dependents and spouses of Australians granted entry as intracorporate transferees or contractual service suppliers for longer than 12 months. This means— (Time expired)