Thursday, 17 March 2016

Australian Federal Election 2016: oh dear, Nationals MP for Page Kevin Hogan is at it again

In February this year Nationals MP for Page Kevin Hogan fronted the Grafton Chamber of Commerce and delivered a large pork pie regarding thresholds for foreign investment in Australian agricultural land and businesses.

He was at it again this month with a public assurance concerning foreign workers made to ABC News on 9 March which also picked up the daily double by repeating that misinformation about investment thresholds:

A National Party MP is hoping local jobs will not be lost as a result of a Chinese buy-out of north coast NSW macadamia farms.
Four properties covering 380 hectares at Dunoon near Lismore, and formerly run by US-based Hancock Farms, have been bought by a Chinese group known as "Discovery".
The member for Page Kevin Hogan said he was aware of rumours of a sale.
Mr Hogan said a Free Trade Agreement with China did not mean the door was now open to foreign workers.
"It's a well-known fact within the free trade agreements that we do with any country, not just China, because let's not just make this a China thing, that any company and there's been companies that have owned Australian assets for 200 years and with every free trade agreement the work has to be offered to Australians first," Mr Hogan said.
Kevin Hogan said any foreign investment greater than $15 million had to be approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board, and he was waiting on information on whether the macadamia sale was vetted.
"We made an election commitment to lower it from the ridiculous amount of $ 250 million when it used to be triggered to look at a purchase if it was in the national interest, we have lowered that from 250 to 15 [million dollars] so if this entity has triggered over $15 million it would have absolutely gone before the Foreign Investment Review Board," Mr Hogan said. [my red bolding]

Now voters in the Page electorate are far from silly and many would have wondered what free trade agreement Mr. Hogan had been reading to boldly state that “with every free trade agreement the work has to be offered to Australians first”.

The Dept. of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s own copy of ARTICLE 10.4: GRANT OF TEMPORARY ENTRY of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement clearly states:

3. In respect of the specific commitments on temporary entry in this Chapter, unless otherwise specified in Annex 10-A, neither Party shall:
(a) impose or maintain any limitations on the total number of visas to be granted to natural persons of the other Party; or
(b) require labour market testing, economic needs testing or other procedures of similar effect as a condition for temporary entry.

So this free trade agreement allows an unlimited number of temporary work visas for Chinese nationals (and in some cases their spouses) in many employment categories and, there is no test to see if the employment positions in Chinese-owned businesses within this country that they are taking up – for a period up to 4 years - could be filled by suitably qualified Australian workers.

One has to wonder if Kevin Hogan reads beyond the regular ‘talking points’ distributed to MPs by his party.

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