Free trade agreement won't hurt local jobs, MP says

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

Mr O'Dowd said the CFMEU had claimed the China-Australia free trade agreement 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.

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

The MP has invited anyone interested in learning more about the China-Australia FTA to attend a seminar on Wednesday morning at Gladstone's Grand Hotel, with proceedings to start at 8am.

"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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