Opposition leader Bill Shorten is wasting no time launching an attack against Australia's new Prime Minister designate Malcolm Turnbull. “The thing about Malcolm, is it’s always about Malcolm," he said on Tuesday September 15, 2015. Creative Commons/Peter Campbell

Labor has finally agreed to pass the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), after the party and the government compromised on some of the points mentioned in the deal to ensure the safeguarding of jobs for Australians. The deal is expected to come into force in early December.

Trade Minister Andrew Robb and shadow Trade Minister Penny Wong made some final minor changes to the deal, but kept it the fundamentally the same on Tuesday night. The opposition signed the deal on Wednesday morning after going through the amendments made to protect Australian jobs.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull praised the Labor Party, which had previously opposed the deal, calling it an absolute threat to Australian jobs.

“We have 23 million extraordinary Australians and their imagination and their enterprise will ensure that we have access to and benefit from this market in a way that even the architects of this agreement, principally the Trade Minister Andrew Robb, would not imagine,” the PM said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten seemed convinced and satisfied to see the changes made to ChAFTA and said that it is now a better deal for Australian jobs than it was before. The changes were made in three specific areas, including labour market testing requirements, protection of Australian wages, improvement of working conditions, and the maintenance of workplace skills and safety standards.

“Labor now has achieved what we believe to be satisfactory legal protections which weren’t previously proposed, which means that Labor can now support the speedy passage of the China-Australia free trade agreement,” Shorten said.

Senator Wong released a statement saying that Labor will now agree to support the free trade agreement deal after its desired outcomes are secured. The agreement that emerged after the negotiations will enable employers to enter into a migration work agreement to facilitate proper labour market testing, falling under ChAFTA Investment Facilitation Arrangements. The new regulations will be jotted down under the Migration Regulations to ensure employers are legally bound.

With regards to subclass 457 visas for overseas tradespersons, the Government will amend a visa condition to make it clear that visa holders must also obtain any licenses, registrations or memberships required under commonwealth or state or territory law. The visa holder will be required to notify the Immigration Department if their licence or registration is refused, revoked, ceased or cancelled.

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