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Thursday, 13 September 2018
Page: 70


Ms CHESTERS (Bendigo) (16:27): In the few moments that we have left in this sitting week, in rising to speak on the Customs Amendment (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership Implementation) Bill 2018 and related bill, I want to echo some of the concerns raised by this side of the House and also to support the amendment that was moved by the member for Blaxland. I continue to be very concerned about the fact that we have another free trade agreement put before us that does not adequately deal with labour market testing. As a bit of a reminder and a bit of background, I spoke in this place about the impact of the China free trade agreement. Those in the government pointed to me and others on their side and said, 'Xenophobic'—xenophobic for raising an issue that says that Australia should have a policy where we put locals in local jobs first, that we would not look for temporary overseas workers unless it is established that there is a genuine skills shortage. It just makes common sense that, if there were, for example, constructions jobs, nursing jobs or any other jobs in this country in any industry, we would advertise locally first and, if it is established that there is a genuine skills shortage, we would then look overseas for those skills on a temporary basis and invest in skills. A temporary skilled migration scheme in an industry in this country should last for as long as it takes to train an Australian to do that job—so in nursing, four to five years; in construction, depending upon the course.

Unions have repeatedly raised the impact of not having proper labour market testing in these agreements. It is disappointing for those on this side of the House to know that, in the China and Japan agreements, we didn't have those safeguards in place that we are now seeing in this agreement. I want to take the opportunity to put on the record that, as we speak, there has been an agreement in Hobart regarding the Chinese migrant workers who were here on a variety of different visa arrangements. John Holland has finally agreed to pay them. They haven't been paid for nine weeks. This is what happens when we don't have proper safeguards.