What’s Wrong With the China Free Trade Agreement? Article by Kelvin Thomson

In this article, Kelvin Thomson lists six things wrong with the China Free Trade agreement: Sumarised, these are: We don't need it. It weakens rules about employment of Chinese nationals in Australia. It fails to create a level playing field for Australian industry. It helps Chinese companies to import Chinese labour to Australian jobs. It does away with mandatory skills testing for imported Chinese labour. It provides for overseas companies to sue Australian governments for actions that disadvantage them.

1. We don't need it. China is already our largest trading partner. We didn't need a deal to do business up until now, and we won't need one in future. Australian agriculture exports to China have trebled in the past six years, from $3 billion in 2007/8 to $9 billion in 2013/14. They will continue to grow in future, deal or no deal.

China had $22.7 billion - $12 billion of it in Australian real estate - in investment proposals approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board in the 2014 financial year, more than from any other country. Chinese investors bought more real estate in Sydney and Melbourne combined – almost $3.5 U.S. billion) than in each of London, Paris, or New York.

Any China market access advantage for Australian exports will only be temporary. Nothing in the deal prevents China from giving the same access to other countries. But all Australian concessions will be permanent.

2. The deal weakens the rules about employing migrant workers from China. At present employers have to test the labour market – that is to say, advertise positions or vacancies in Australia and show no qualified locals are available - before they can bring in Chinese temporary migrant workers, or employ those already here.

But the China FTA puts an end permanently to labour market testing in the 457 visa program for all Chinese nationals in all skilled occupations. This includes engineers, nurses, electricians, motor mechanics and another 200 trades and occupations where testing currently applies, plus the 400 or so other mainly graduate-level occupations where there is no testing now simply by government policy. Employers will use this loophole to substitute easily exploited overseas labour for Australian workers and graduates.

3. It utterly fails to create a level playing field for Australian domestic industry facing competition from Chinese imports. There is no chapter on labour standards. There is no chapter on environment standards. There is no mechanism to ensure that imported products are of an appropriate standard. Alucoil Australia advises that the much publicised Docklands Fire in Melbourne was in a high rise apartment building cladded with non-compliant panels imported from China.

4. A Memorandum of Understanding establishes Investment Facilitation Arrangements. These will allow Chinese-owned companies registered in Australia undertaking infrastructure development projects of more than $150 million in specified sectors (a very low threshold these days, which would cover most projects a Chinese-owned company would bother with) to negotiate bringing in semi-skilled temporary workers on 457 visas plus ‘concessional’ skilled workers. The Liberal Government says it will be the same as the Enterprise Migration Agreements proposed by Labor at the time of the Roy Hill Mining proposal. But trade unions objected vehemently to Enterprise Migration Agreements for good reason and none of them ever happened – not at Roy Hill and not anywhere else.

The Liberal Government says direct employers on these infrastructure projects must test the local labour market first. But the government’s labour market testing requirement allows employers to stop advertising jobs locally up to a year and a half before employing Chinese semi-skilled workers!

5. A side letter does away with mandatory skills testing by the Australian Government in a range of trades before Chinese-trained workers come to Australia. These include high risk trades like electrical work, which is inherently dangerous. We have stringent electrical training and safety standards in Australia, and eroding these standards could lead to accidents, injuries and deaths.

The Liberal Government says we shouldn't worry because the Immigration Department can still order a skills test ‘if needed’, and the States will step in and do assessments for licensed trades. Really? And if they don't? I guess we can always have a Royal Commission.

Mandatory skills assessment for 457 visa applicants from high-risk countries including China was introduced in 2009 by the former Labor Government to help restore some integrity to the 457 program. Before that it was commonplace for employers to nominate Chinese and other workers for skilled 457 visas in trade occupations but work them as semi-skilled or unskilled workers. For example some Chinese workers granted 457 visas as professional engineers were found to be working as labourers on Australian construction sites! There was also concern about trade training standards and qualifications and document fraud in some countries. Authorities like the World Bank say those concerns are still valid.

6. The deal contains an Investor-State Dispute Settlement provision. The details of the provision haven't yet been finalised. In all seriousness, the details haven't been finalised, but the Liberal Government is demanding that Labor agrees to the deal. But Investor-State Dispute provisions allow overseas companies to sue the Australian Government for actions that disadvantage them. Phillip Morris is suing the Australian Government right now, using one of these clauses in a Hong Kong investment agreement, over the introduction of plain paper packaging for tobacco products. ISDS has mutated into a privatised system of 'justice', whereby three arbitrators are allowed to override national legislation and the judgments of the highest courts in the land, in secret and with no right of appeal. No governments should enter into treaties which could stop them carrying out their proper role of protecting public health, the environment, and basic human rights.

There’s a lot wrong with the China Australia Free Trade Agreement.

Pope Francis's ideological blinkers betray his values and ignorance of history

"Every people deserves to conserve its identity without being ideologically colonised," the Pope said. But, during his trip to the Philippines the Pope defended traditional Vatican teaching, which opposes artificial contraception. [1]

He said this after commenting that, "Progressive, Western ideas about birth control and gay rights were increasingly being imposed by groups, institutions or nations there, often as a condition for development aid."

The idea of this article is to compare:

Papal ideology
Foreign Aid ideology and birth control, juxtaposed to pre-European steady states.

Cite Anthony Daniels, Fool or Physician.


[1]Source of quoted material:

Big Ideas? Let's start 2015 with some narrow-minded thinking from the ABC

Once again the ABC is promoting so-called 'sustainable growth' (with a like-minded cohort of intelligentsia), as a concept where you can have your carbon cake and eat it. Even children are taught that this is impossible. Here are some observations.

What is the world coming to? 140 people per tee shirt...............

Albert Einstein: "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

"Richard Denniss, Dr Jagit Plahe & Keith Badger give heavy hits from varied viewpoints on what's wrong with our manufacturing, agriculture, taxation & growth in this Sustainable Living Festival panel moderated by Anthony James." Source:

Richard bordered on unreasonable. He compared campaigns and taxation to provide a multi-faceted way of stopping smoking to a Carbon Tax to stop emissions.

This is a bit like a psychometric test question for assessment of cognitive ability. Is the first scenario similar to the second? The answer is "No". The explanation is as follows:

The objective of stopping smoking is an end in itself. Nothing is required to replace it.
When a fossil fuel burner stops he needs something to replace the fossil fuel. If something is cheaper and effective it will be adopted. If it is not feasible to raise the Carbon Tax high enough to make the change occur the Carbon Tax will fail; which is exactly what has occurred. This is because it will distort the economy too severely before a commercially feasible alternative exists. If oil halves in value it will remain attractive. If solar energy becomes ten times cheaper it will become ten times more commercially attractive.

Attempting to use a Carbon Tax to drive such changes in an energy market subject to such volatile pricing is like trying to use a sailing boat in a tropical cyclone.

The irony is that funding renewable energy requires money, and we have a Government whose policies are aligned with those of both Labor and Greens. All these parties believe in extreme population growth despite it being economically unviable. The Liberals have adopted their historical role of cleaning up the spending mess left behind by Labor; yet these two factions are actually a double-act with exactly the same big picture policy.

Richard pointed out that $50 billion spent on defence spending is nothing and could easily be spent on renewable energy. Why didn't he mention that the extra two million people who arrived in Australia over the last decade (in addition to natural population growth) are costing the Federal Budget $17,000 per person per annum? That is an additional $34 billion every year. Is each one of those people paying $17,000 in total direct and indirect taxes? $68,000 per average family of four? The numbers don't look sustainable; but hasn't Richard noticed? Foreign aid reduced by $7.5 billion this year. Does Richard think that is nothing? For how many years can debt grow by 10% of the total Federal Budget spending? What creates the most humanitarian outcome; spending $7.5 billion in Australia or spending it in the developing world?

What does Richard see as the future for a planet with endless exponential population growth? Does he propose to introduce a Population Tax?

Jagit Plahe was quite reasonable as she spoke of multinational agribusiness and its environmentally damaging practices, and the value of subsistence agriculture. But how does that work if you double the population on a plot of land every 40 years? Is migration to Australia the solution?

She spoke of the plight of 9 million of her fellow Indians displaced by floods in NE India in 2011, but didn't mention that India's population grows by roughly 25 million per annum and that this is a key consideration for Indian food self sufficiency and avoidance of deforestation and other environmental impacts in India.

Keith Badger actually mentioned population growth (Hooray) but instead of following through to the logical need for managing it, he took a sweeping 90 degree turn and identified marketing as a root cause of the 6th great extinction !! He highlighted consumption per capita as a primary issue. Remarkable perspective. He doesn't seem to be applying the basic principles of exponential growth. For Keith's benefit, based on current rates of population growth Melbourne's population in 200 years will be 593 million people versus 4.25 million today. Keith referred to keeping a favourite old tee shirt that he now treasures because instead of throwing it away he had it darned by an old lady from a different, less wasteful, era.

I wonder if Keith has done this sum: 593/4.25 = 139.5. This means to avoid consuming any more tee shirts Keith's tee shirt will need to be shared by 139.5 people 200 years from now. Does he think this kind of reduction in consumption is feasible?

2014-15: Migration program set at 190,000 places; humanitarian intake 13,750 places.
SOURCES: Department of Immigration; Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Federal Government dictates what happens to Australia? The States are at the mercy of autocratic decision-making?

Dear Premier Napthine, This link refers to 100,000 jobs created since 2010. That is 25,000 per year. It also refers to your plan to create 200,000 more: But Melbourne's population has been growing in recent years at 2.5% per annum. 0.025 x 4,250,000 is 106,250 per year. Over 4 years that is 425,000. Let's assume an average family with two children and either one or both parents employed. That means we need roughly an extra 25,000 to 50,000 new jobs per year just to employ the additional people. "Dr Napthine said the Victorian Jobs in the 21st Century plan would use the Coalition Government's record investment in large-scale infrastructure projects as a springboard to create a diverse, highly skilled and productive workforce that will underpin a strong economy for decades to come." Well 20 years is 2 decades. Based on population growth we are talking about between 500,000 and a million additional jobs every 20 years. And most of these have to be in Melbourne? Doing jobs including building freeways and apartment blocks? And making coffee? Australia's unemployment rate has been growing at around 2.3% per annum for the last decade or more. With such massive growth in population and the corresponding massive growth in demand for jobs, how is all this supposed to work when Australia's trend rate of unemployment growth is almost identical to Melbourne's trend rate in population growth? What is Dr Napthine doing; and why is he doing it? Is he simply reacting to the Federal Government's autocratic decision to continue to use mass migration to achieve what its economic advisors call GDP growth? Annual GDP growth per capita has been less than 1% for over a decade while the annual growth of the Federal Budget has been between 6% and 8% per capita for over a decade. Something doesn't add up; but Government and the mainstream media aren't talking about it.