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Unions kick-off China FTA community hall debates

07 October, 2015

Unions have challenged local Coalition MPs to debate the merits of the China Australia Free Trade Agreement in community halls around the country.

In what unions have promised will be the biggest grassroots campaign since WorkChoices, ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver said local communities were being given the opportunity to hear the facts about the Agreement direct from both sides of the debate.

"Forget the big spending advertising campaigns, let's have a genuine old-school debate and see what the people think," Oliver said.

"We will go from town hall to town hall, community centre to community centre, giving people the facts.

"If the China Free Trade Agreement goes through not only will there be exemptions for labour market testing but there will be exemptions to trade skills testing too."

Liberal MP Matt Williams had been invited to the first debate on the 6th of October 2015 at the West Adelaide Football Club with AMWU National President Andrew Dettmer, but Williams declined to attend.

"Williams is hiding behind Malcolm Turnbull's big spending taxpayer-funded ad blitz," said Dettmer.

"But I'll debate an empty chair if I have to because people deserve the facts about the China Free Trade Agreement."

Oliver said South Australians had seen enough job losses in the manufacturing and energy sectors over the last two years to see the Federal Government had turned its back them.

"The facts are that this deal creates exemptions to labour market testing which means jobs don't need to be offered to local workers first," Mr Oliver said

"It also allows Chinese companies with projects worth $150 million or more to bring in lower-skilled workers than would otherwise be allowed under the standard 457 visa program, avoiding labour market testing and paying workers lower wages.

"The China free trade agreement is bad for local jobs, bad for workplace safety, bad for local communities and undercuts penalty rates."

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Rod | Thursday, October 8, 2015, 4:58 AM
II will attend to try to find the truth regarding employment in this FTA. The net result needs to be positive for Australians