The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) that was signed on 17 June 2015 in Canberra, promised to be a step in the right direction for Australia’s economy. China being Australia’s largest export market for goods and services has come into focus of late, as apparent loop holes in the ChAFTA have surfaced, meaning serious disadvantages to both Australian jobs and industry (Martin, 2015).
Australian Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb said that the Free Trade Agreement is about creating hundreds of thousands of jobs for Australians, providing a real, positive future for job seekers, he told The Guardian (Martin, 2015). He said these trade deals will create almost 9000 jobs per year and create 178,000 jobs by the time all the agreements come into full force in 2035.
According to the Canberra- based centre for international economics however, it will create only thousands of jobs (Martin, 2015). Political Editor of The Age, Peter Martin said in response that the Labour force is under threat due to there being no requirement for labour market testing (Martin, 2015).
Mr Martin although agrees that the department of immigration is practiced in enforcing laws, which in this case is checking the availability of Australian workers to make sure they are available first. He said his concern is that these requirements that are imposed by the department of immigration, aren’t legislated in law (Martin, 2015).
A departmental spokesperson has told the ABC fact check unit that in unique and exceptional circumstances the requirement can be waived (Martin, 2015). Former Trade Minister Craig Emmerson also confirmed how easy it would be for waivers to employment restrictions. He said that all it would take is a simple amendment to the migration act, in section 140GBA to put beyond doubt the requirement of Australia firms wanting to come to Australia (Martin, 2015). He said that this could all be done without touching the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement or the memorandum of understanding that accompanies it.
The department of Foreign Affairs, has released information on the agreement, and confirms that no such actions can take place, encouraging concerned Australians to get in touch with their offices if they are concerned (dfat.gov.au, 2015).
Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 2015 ‘China-Australia FTA (ChAFTA): myths versus realities’, 2015, viewed 6 September 2015, http://dfat.gov.au/trade/agreements/chafta/fact-sheets/Pages/chafta-myths-versus-realities.aspx
Martin, P 2015, ‘China-Australia free trade agreement: the collision course that’s a distraction’, The Age, 8 September, viewed 11 September 2015,http://www.theage.com.au/comment/chinaaustralia-free-trade-agreement-the-collision-course-thats-a-distraction-20150907-gjgl6f.html#ixzz3mJIRTUIc
Martin, P 2015, ‘How many jobs? The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement will create hardly any’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 September, viewed 16 September 2015, http://www.smh.com.au/comment/how-many-jobs-the-chinaaustralia-free-trade-agreement-will-create-hardly-any-20150914-gjlv06.html