Pressure on Shorten to back China free trade deal

THE Business Council of Australia has joined state Labor leaders in urging federal Labor to back the Abbott Government's free trade agreement with China.

The Business Council of Australia called on Labor leader Bill Shorten on Wednesday to heed the advice of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill and New South Wales Opposition Leader Luke Foley.

BCA chief Jennifer Westacott said the fact other Labor leaders supported the agreement brought into question why the federal opposition was "continuing to play politics with this vital trade deal".

Ms Westacott said concerns about labour market safeguards were "unnecessary".

However, Labor's spokesman for human services, Senator Doug Cameron, defended the party's concerns. He said there were significant problems with the FTA's "movement of natural persons" clause and investment facilitation deal.

"It talks about visas - 'they shall be granted' - and it talks about labour market testing not being required," he told the ABC.

"If we sign off on this agreement, Chinese companies that invest in projects of $150 million and more can bring their own labour in and that's a significant problem for tradespeople around this country ... Chinese companies can bring workers in on food, agribusiness, resource and energy, transport, telecoms, power supply generation, the environment and tourism."


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