China FTA threats don’t help: Shorten

Labor says it won’t accede to the federal government’s “doomsday” threats that time is running out on the China free trade agreement.


But the government says the deal is finished and there is no room for changes.

Both sides are at loggerheads over claims the agreement could pave the way for foreign workers to take Australian jobs.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten wants to negotiate and says he won’t sign up to the agreement with a blank cheque.

Trade Minister Andrew Robb has warned China could walk away if the deal is delayed and Australia might lose out entirely.

“The doomsday threats of Mr Robb don’t help anything,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Perth on Saturday.

“What we want is a better discussion.”

Mr Robb has rejected the possibility of negotiations with Labor, saying its threats presented a major risk to jobs and economic growth.

Businesses were already hiring and signing memorandums of understanding with Chinese partners in readiness.

Mr Robb said he was happy to provide clarity to Mr Shorten.

“But the FTA is concluded, it’s not up for negotiation,” he told AAP in a statement.

“This presents a huge test for Mr Shorten’s leadership, for his economic credibility.”

The CFMEU has launched an advertising campaign against the deal, saying it will allow Chinese companies to bring in workers at the expense of Australian jobs.

The National Farmers Federation, Minerals Council and Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry are preparing to hit back with their own advertising campaign in support of the agreement next week.

Legislation implementing the agreement is expected to be introduced to parliament in October, with the deal entering into force by the end of the year.