PM Scott Morrison’s ‘curious’ decision to not attend the signing of a free trade deal with Indonesia has been questioned by MP Kerryn Phelps.
Phelps said the no-show was highly unusual.
‘I have to say, that the prime minister isn’t going there himself to sign that agreement,’ she said on Monday.
‘That is very unusual with a major trading partner of the magnitude of Indonesia.’
‘Business as normal’
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham argued that the PM’s no-show was quite the opposite.
‘This is business as normal,’ he told ABC News.
The country is in election mode ahead of its general election on 17 April.
The deal will be signed today.
The agreement was hampered by the PM’s support of moving Australia’s embassy in Israel.
‘The thought bubble about moving Australia’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to West Jerusalem didn’t please anybody,’ Phelps said.
She continued, ‘It was a very ill-considered foreign policy, it didn’t consider any of the security or trade or foreign policy issues that come with such a decision.’
As if Australia should be kow-towing to globalist mores.
The unions are worried that the deal will result in cheap Indonesian labour having access to the Australian market and undermine national sovereignty by opening the door to international rulings on investment disputes.
Unions running ‘scare campaigns’
The ACTU has lashed out at the agreement, calling it a ‘dodgy deal.’
Protectionists as always, the manufacturer’s union argues that there’s no substantive evidence the deal will benefit Australian workers.
All of this comes at a time where business investment as percentage of GDP in Australia is at a level not seen since the Whitlam years.
Senator Birmingham rightly dismissed the concerns.
‘We’re seeing Australia’s unions running a predictable scare campaign when the facts speak the opposite,’ he said.
‘We’ve done trade deals and increased market access to countries right around the world in the last few years, we’ve actually managed to grow jobs by 1.2 million.’
The deal is badly needed as both countries are in the world’s top 20 economies, but not in each other’s top 10 trading partners.
It is a first for the country and will let Australian universities operate in Indonesia.
Senator Birmingham suggested it would be a boon for Australian industry, with frozen meats, live cattle, feed grains, dairy, citrus and rolled steel all to benefit.
In a rare hint of unity, Labor frontbencher Michelle Rowland welcomed the deal, noting that the negotiations were started under the previous Labor government.
To conclude, if the unions don’t like it, it is probably a good idea.
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