Parliament to vote on China FTA today

Prime Minister Tony Abbott will move a motion in the House of Representatives today asking for support of the free trade agreement with China.

AAP reports that such a vote is unusual, giving that the government hasn’t yet introduced enabling legislation for the deal; and that Abbott appears to be trying to force the Opposition into showing its support for the FTA.

However, the Opposition dismissed the tactic and suggested the Government wasn’t following accepted parliamentary conventions.

"Prime ministers don't move motions on notice, that's what shadow ministers do," Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said.

The Opposition says it supports the deal, but continues to claim that it needs to be modified to make sure that Australians get preference over Chinese nationals for Australian based jobs.

For its part, the Government continues to counter that there is no threat to Australian workers because all projects would require labour market tests to ensure local workers were not available, before foreign workers could take part. Therefore, the Government argues, the deal requires no changes.

Still, claims that this isn’t the case are continuing.

For example, Department of Immigration and Border Protection first assistant secretary David Wilden told a hearing of the joint standing committee on the China-Australia FTA on Monday that, under the deal, there would not be labour market testing for some Chinese workers, including nurses and engineers.

He added that employers may still have to follow normal processes before hiring foreign workers.

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