Business / Economy

Australian PM urges opposition to listen to 'decent' people on China-Australia FTA

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-08-28 09:19

SYDNEY - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has urged the country's political opposition to listen to "decent" people like former Prime Minister Bob Hawke and former Foreign Affairs minister Bob Carr on the China- Australia Free Trade Agreement instead of the "racist lie" being pushed by Australia's trade unions.

Abbott told Australia's national broadcaster while traveling northern Queensland on Friday that he can "absolutely" guarantee that Australian jobs will not be lost from the agreement, instead blaming trade and workers unions for pedaling myths.

Hawke, a former trade union boss, urged the labor opposition and trade unions not to go "backwards" on the issue.

Australia's trade unions have launched a vocal campaign against the China-Australia FTA over the past weeks airing attack ads and holding rolling protests outside state and federal parliament houses.

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) -- the union leading the attack -- claims the deal will allow Chinese companies to bring in workers and deny Australians jobs.

The labor opposition has reacted to the union's claims -- though they support Hawke's view and support the China-Australia FTA -- wanting safeguards for Australian jobs, urging the Abbott government to re-open the deal and reinforce protections for Australian workers.

Abbott has dismissed the calls, saying the deal cannot be changed or renegotiated, telling the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Friday "we have a very good deal with the Chinese" and that as the deal stands, Australian jobs are protected.

The Australian National Farmers Federation, Minerals Council and Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry are preparing to hit back again the union claims with an advertising campaign of their own in support of the agreement.

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