PM’s Yass stunt ‘does nothing’ to dispel fears about jobs, standards

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WEDNESDAY’s media stunt which depicted the Prime Minister traipsing through Yass cattle yards did nothing to dispel fears the China free trade agreement would put at risk local jobs and Australian work standards, according to peak Australian worker’s union CFMEU.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) ACT branch secretary Dean Hall was responding to Tony Abbott’s remarks about the union launching a vigorous fear campaign against the ChAFTA agreement in recent weeks.

Mayor Rowena Abbey hosted the Prime Minister Tony Abbott at her property in Yass on Wednesday.

Mayor Rowena Abbey hosted the Prime Minister Tony Abbott at her property in Yass on Wednesday.

Mr Abbott told reporters during a visit to Yass Valley Mayor Rowena Abbey’s property at “Bellevale” that the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) was all about jobs, prosperity and improving the lives of Australian cattle farmers.

“[It’s] all about jobs, it’s all about prosperity, it is all about trying to improve the lives of people like the Abbeys and all the other people who depend on this business,” he said during his brief stay in Yass.

“It’s absolutely full square that this government’s total focus is on jobs growth and community safety.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott navigates the media scrum at Mayor Rowena Abbey's property in Yass.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott navigates the media scrum at Mayor Rowena Abbey’s property in Yass.

Bellevale property co-owner Brendan Abbey escorts the Prime Minister Tony Abbott into the cattle yards.

Bellevale property co-owner Brendan Abbey escorts the Prime Minister Tony Abbott into the cattle yards.

“I’m very pleased to be here [in Yass] to remind everyone that trade means more jobs and also to remind people that unions like the CFMEU are running a dishonest campaign against the China free trade agreement, and [Opposition leader] Bill Shorten is protecting them.”

He said contrary to the CFMEU’s claim that the agreement would lose Australian jobs to unskilled overseas workers, it would indeed promote and create new jobs.

“The CFMEU every day is claiming that this will cost jobs. Wrong, this will create jobs.The CFMEU is claiming there is some kind of a back door deal that will import Chinese workers into this country – dead wrong – dead wrong. There is no change to workplace relations laws required by the free trade agreement.”

Nor was there any change to investment facilitation agreements required by the free trade agreement, he argued.

“Labor’s workplace laws stay. Labor’s investment facilitation agreements stay. It is an absolutely dishonest campaign by the CFMEU. And the CFMEU as always, is being egged on by Bill Shorten.

“This government knows where it stands. We stand for jobs. growth, investment. Where exactly does Labor stand on this?”

CFMEU Branch secretary Dean Hall told Scoop Mr Abbott’s assertions were contrary to facts that had been validated numerous times in the media.

CFMEU ACT Branch secretary Dean Hall.

CFMEU ACT Branch secretary Dean Hall.

“Fact; every day jobs are disappearing. Fact; unemployment remains high and is set to get worse. Fact; youth unemployment is at 13.5 per cent and as high as 20.5 per cent in some regional areas,” he told Scoop.

“Fact; currently almost 800,000 Australians are out of work. Fact; there are now 1.8 billion temporary work visa holders in Australia. Fact; many of these workers are being exploited and used to drive down the wages and conditions of Australian workers.”

He said people in the Yass Valley needed a government with an immigration program that didn’t rely on exploited workers.

“Fact; the China free trade agreement means that China can bring workers in from overseas without offering jobs to locals first… It means tradies like electricians, carpenters, and joiners will not have to be qualified.

“It means cheap imported products that don’t meet Australian standards, including asbestos, will flood the market putting lives at risk and wiping out local jobs.

“The question I ask your readers is how secure is your job? And how secure is your children’s future? Tony Abbott has no job plan other than to give your jobs away.”

 

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Katharyn Brine

Editor / Publisher

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