MP hits back at claims jobs will be lost to Chinese workers

RENEWED claims that Australia's free trade agreement with China will hurt local jobs have been disputed by federal Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd, who described the claims as "utterly false…union propaganda".

Mr O'Dowd hit out at alleged claims by the CFMEU Construction Union that the China-Australia FTA would allow Chinese companies to circumvent current regulations by employing their own workers on Australia-based projects at a reduced pay rate.

"These allegations are utterly false and nothing more than union propaganda, with the only purpose being to create paranoia amongst decent, hardworking people who have no need to be worried," Mr O'Dowd said.

"Our government has implemented a program separate to the FTA that will give up to 5000 young Chinese people with tertiary education the opportunity to experience a working holiday in our country."

The Work and Holiday Arrangement program is intended to build closer cultural ties between Australia and China.

Visa holders are not sponsored by any employer and can work where they choose during their year-long stay, as long as they don't work for more than six months with any one employer.

When working, all visa holders must be engaged in accordance with Australian workplace law, including awards and workplace health and safety.

Mr O'Dowd said the program would benefit rural areas by supporting the development of Australia's tourism services.

"I expect that we will see an increase in demand for tourism services, which will be good business for our region," he said.

"The opportunities are there for the taking, and if seized upon, will help create jobs, build our economy and lead to greater prosperity for everyone."

Mr O'Dowd is inviting anyone interested in learning more about the China-Australia FTA to attend a seminar tomorrow morning at Gladstone's Grand Hotel, with proceedings to kick off at 8am.

The Flynn MP said the seminar was an ideal networking event, providing participants with the opportunity to share their experiences with other businesspeople and to learn from experts in the trade space.

"Trade specialists will be on hand to offer targeted advice and assistance on how to identify opportunities and navigate the export market," Mr O'Dowd said.

Those interested in learning how to seize the opportunities created by the FTAs can register their attendance at the seminar by visiting: www.austrade.gov.au/ftaseminars.



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