After more than three months of opposition, the Australian Labor Party agreed on Tuesday to give its support to a free trade agreement with China. The agreement, proposed in June, will now take effect before the end of this year.
Bill Shorten, leader of Australia’s Labor Party, who until recently opposed passage of the China-Australia free trade agreement.
Over the course of the past several months, Labor leader Bill Shorten, with the backing of his party and constituents, has repeatedly voiced his objection to the bill. The basis of his argument was that the agreement, if instituted without legal protections for Australian jobs, could end up causing the loss of jobs in the Australian economy. As a solution to this, Labor leaders offered up three proposed amendments to the bill last week.
The principle amendment would have required employers to advertise for Australian workers before outsourcing jobs overseas to China. The amendments to the bill were not passed, but protectionist guarantees were introduced into both Australian immigration and labor policy to satisfy the requirements of the Labor opposition. It was this compromise that convinced Mr. Shorten to withdraw his opposition.
Not all, however, share Mr. Shorten’s views. While majority leaders have praised the opposition party for agreeing to compromise in order to pass the bill, many Australians have suggested that the reforms agreed upon do not go far enough. Many trade and manufacturing unions have voiced opposition to the acceptance of the bill, saying that it will allow corporate entities to more easily move jobs overseas. These unions have stated that they will continue to lobby for more powerful protectionist measures, even as Mr. Shorten and the Labor party go forward with the deal as originally made.
By Peter Campbell [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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