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Skin in the game

Andrew Robb admitted on Insiders that 84% of 457 workers who are currently employed were not subject to labour market testing and that that situation will remain.

Just to be clear, these were his exact words

BARRIE CASSIDY: Well because it raises the prospects of course that Gina Rinehart, who you mentioned of course, could have 49 per cent of a joint venture, go into a joint venture with the Chinese and then bring in workers from China.

ANDREW ROBB: Well they can bring them in from anywhere now. The biggest number of 457s ever in Australia was under the Labor government, the 127,000. It’s back at about 100,000 now. 84,000 of those are not required, were not required, will not be required to have labour market testing.

He tries to justify this by referring to Labor but the fact of the matter is we are having an influx of Chinese investment, and presumably workers, which is going to greatly increase the numbers of 457 visa workers not subject to labour market testing.

The dairy industry is a prime example.

Robb has been spruiking the advantages gained from ChaFTA for the dairy industry. But if China owns the dairy farms and brings in Chinese workers and then reaps the profits of selling their produce back to China, where is the benefit for Australia aside from the few rich partners who stand to benefit from cheap labour?

Gina Rinehart has been investing in dairy farms around Australia over the last 12 months. She has joined forces with Chinese industrial giant China National Machinery Industry Corporation in a $500 million joint venture to export infant milk powder.

Rinehart’s Hope Dairies has bought 5000 hectares of dairy farms in the Mary Valley in Queensland’s south east and, in January, Rinehart added to her portfolio with a joint venture position in WA’s Bannister Downs Dairy. That investment would centre on the construction of a $20 million purpose-built processing facility. She will soon add the 400,000 hectare Fossil Downs station – which remained in the hands of a single family for the last 133 years – to her pastoral holdings.

Gerry Harvey is also investing in dairy with a 49.9 per cent stake in Coomboona Holdings, one of Australia’s largest dairy farms, costing $34 million. The 2000-hectare Coomboona property, north west of Shepparton, will involve the construction of three huge sheds milking 6000 cows with the modern feeding method known as total mixed ration.

Chinese owned Ningbo Dairy has bought several dairy farms in Kernot, in South Gippsland, and plans to build a feedlot and $20 million milk-processing plant to export fresh milk directly to Chinese consumers. Ningbo’s vice-president Harry Wang last year criticised Australia’s high wage costs and said he could improve the Kernot farms’ productivity and profitability by importing workers from its 12,000-cow mega dairy operations in China.

In August 2013, Ningbo was actively recruiting Chinese dairy farm workers for Australian jobs. Broadcast and social media records show Ningbo was seeking “livestock management, and animal science and dairy farming-related” employees, with some English, to work in Gippsland.

Kerry Stokes and Twiggy Forrest have gone into the cattle industry in WA, as have Rio Tinto who runs about 24,000 head of cattle in Western Australia across six pastoral leases.

When Craig Emerson’s reasonable suggestion that there be legislation to make labour market testing mandatory for all 457 visas was put to Robb he went on an hysterical rant.

“The CMFEU have got an agenda which they’re imposing on Bill Shorten because they control his – they control numbers, they control his funding. They’ve already spent $12 million. That’s nearly half what a party would spend in any campaign. They’ve spent $12 million already on this totally disingenuous, racist, misleading, misrepresenting campaign and Bill Shorten is being run around by the nose with this mob. And they’re a bunch of thugs and this whole exercise has been captured by the CMFEU as a political exercise. It’s got nothing to do – it’s the Royal commission, they’re trying to distract from that. They want to get rid of our government. This is part of the exercise. This will run through to the next election, I guarantee, no matter what happens with this free trade agreement, so don’t get distracted. This – this notion that Craig’s come up with will turn into, you know, the biggest bugger’s muddle you’ve seen and we’ll be expected to change a a whole raft of things totally unrelated to the free trade agreement.”

The Coalition have a lot of skin in the game to get this deal through. Several of their major donors have already invested a lot of money in anticipation. Robb has an unfortunate habit of letting the truth slip through as he did on Insiders. His minders must have been having a fit.


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  1. harshmind

    Feeling VERY uneasy about this. Big investors in Australia seeing the importation of cheap labour as an avenue to profit. Meanwhile, what do Australian workers do? Oh, that’s right, they look to their elected representatives to look out for them. Bonza, blue

  2. babyjewels10

    Aside from anything else, the thought of the Chinese, Reinhart and Harvey investing in dairy farms, all I can think of is, the poor cows. Imagine the shortcuts they’ll be taking to the detriment of the quality of life of cows. Oh I hate big business in animal farming of any kind. It’s bad enough as it is.

  3. slorter

    Cost of Labor that’s what it is all about! This global free market is just a racket for the ultra rich; they want the whole world to be run on their whim and the rest of us to descend into some sort of neo feudalism! All you have to do is listen to $2 dollars a day Rinehart!

  4. Terry2

    This agreement was concluded hastily to meet the deadline of the G20 in Brisbane when Abbott insisted on signing something with China ; he would have signed the back of an envelope, anything for the photo-op.

    Craig Emerson is quite right that the ChaFTA requires facilitating legislation which can include reference to employment standards – e.g. welders, electricians, engineers etc. obviously need to meet Australian standards including a competence in English.

    It is unacceptable that Abbott is using this agreement to wedge Labor.

  5. corvus boreus

    Depends whether you mean Labor or labour.

    ‘Cost of Labor’ is what it is all about for the current government, in terms of repetitious propaganda, aka ‘message’.

    ‘Cost of labour’ (and the tolerance of poor conditions within the workforce) is what it is all about in terms of kow-tow-ing to the demands of Gina and her crony-communist Chinese partners to bring in unskilled workers on 457s.
    It is part of why the TURC attack dogs have been sent in so hard on the CMFEU, who would view un(/der) qualified imports working in their industry on 457 visas as ‘cheap scabs’.

  6. Möbius Ecko

    Haven’t got it to hand but the waiver for labour market testing is one way. There is a specific passage in the ChAFTA that states China does not have to waiver it’s labour market regulations and restrictions.

    Here’s the rub on that. That passage was put in by Australia, not China.

  7. Winston

    Andrew Robb is an extremely inarticulate human being. Listen to this man intently; he says nothing outside the party line. Barry Cassidy questioned him yesterday that he is being head hunted for a job as ambassador for the United States. More than likely Robb; probably got the rumour going in the first place. Andrew Robb is a thin skinned man of very little consequence or intelligence. The man is unemployable. Really; no one would hire this guy. When he finishes politics or when he’s finished stuffing up our county he will be sitting around bumbling around on pension like Uncle Arthur from The Comedy Company; boring the daylights out of people.

  8. Kaye Lee

    Andrew Robb is a self-confessed liar who is almost singlehandedly responsible for scuttling the ETS and giving us Tony Abbott.

    In 2009 he took leave to deal with a mental illness. He came back just in time for the party room debate on the ETS. He was Turnbull’s climate change spokesman and was expected to support his leader’s proposed compromise with Labor. He wrote a note to Malcolm saying “the side-effects of the medication I am on now make me very tired, I’d be really grateful if you could get me to my feet soon”.

    In his book Black Dog Daze, Robb admits this was a deliberate lie. “I knew that if I didn’t say anything, there was no one else [in the opposition] equipped to challenge the proposal.” Under the heading An Act of Treachery, Robb writes “I didn’t feel that good about doing this . . . I was tired, that wasn’t a lie, although I had my share of adrenaline pumping and could have easily sat there for another couple of hours.”

    The ruse worked. “Malcolm called me up and I went for it”, Robb wrote. He received a “standing ovation” and “poked holes all over their proposal”. A week later Turnbull lost the Liberal leadership to Tony Abbott in a coup organised by Robb and the party’s other climate change sceptics.

    If he would lie to his own leader and commit an act of treachery like that, why trust him about the FTA. The man has no ethics.

  9. Peter F

    So Gina is investing in Dairy Farms which will use Chinese labour because we don’t have any experienced dairy farmers in Australia. Sounds like the $2/hr pay rate is getting closer than we thought. ( This will be ‘commercial in confidence’)

  10. Winston

    I think many Australians are apathetic or assume persons in government are fine upstanding human beings. I had a great chat with an elderly conservative woman over the weekend. She marvelled at Tony Abbott being a Rhodes Scholar. I informed her that this was meaningless. Australians; observe more by what your politicians aren’t saying rather than what they do say. Your ignorance and laziness will sell us down the creek. And for The Conservatives to cry Xenophobia regarding the free trade deal with China just means we are now being governed by a neanderthal big business grovelling bullies. I’d say there would be more integrity in the Mafia than our current government.

  11. kerri

    And there are some who have the temerity to suggest Robb would make a good treasurer???

  12. Winston

    You could give Robb the job of serving the pies and sausage rolls at a school Tuck Shop as long as he didn’t have to handle the money. Otherwise it would too much for him.

  13. Lee

    Now we know the reason for ag-gag laws.

  14. Jagger

    Kaye, one look at the dairy industry in New Zealand will tell you where we are going to end up.

  15. Bronte ALLAN

    STOP .457 VISAS!! Stop ANY overseas workers form coming here & taking what few jobs we have available!

  16. Adrianne Haddow

    Now revealing itself…… the IPA agenda for Australia…… their member’s opportunity for investment.

    The ABC published an opinion piece on ChAFTA by Chris Berg ( IPA mouthpiece) last week where he argued that no one could deny the opportunity for the poor workers of China to move to Australia for the sake of the well being of their families.

    The hypocrisy is galling.

    Where the Chinese aren’t degrading our food producing areas with their open cut, ever-increasing in size mines, they are buying up the remaining farming land to avail themselves of our food production.

    The next big crisis in the world is looming- the food shortage, so Gina and her tax avoiding buddies are shoring themselves up to take advantage of that.

    A curse upon their houses and their political puppets.

  17. Maureen Walton (@maureen_walton)

    Great article very informative Kaye.

    If Australian workers are a problem why are we changed so much for everything that we buy. Honestly people from America and England come here and are shocked at what we have to pay even for imported goods let alone food, Electricity, Gas etc….Look at the BIG problem with the Cables sent out here from China there is so mNY problems coming because of the seriousness of buying junk from China so dangerous..

  18. Lee

    “If Australian workers are a problem why are we changed so much for everything that we buy.”

    Good point. My partner and I pay the same price now, if not more, for Chinese-made crap that doesn’t last, that we used to pay when the items were Australian made. There’s a documentary on SBS that mentions China getting back at the US by flooding the market with their cheap manufactured crap and ruining manufacturing in the US. They’re taking over the world without a war, aided by our stupid, greedy politicians and stupid, lazy voters.

  19. Royce Arriso

    Here’s the sullied ideological heart of the Chinese FTA. Read it and weep.

    Paragraph 3 of Article 10.4: Grant of Temporary Entry.

    ‘Australia shall not;

    a) Impose or maintain any limitation 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’.

    There it is, the wet dream Liberals have been hoping to have ever since we gave WorkChoices the Big A. It’s payback time.

  20. Nasser

    Watching Andrew Robb on Sunday, he couldn’t hold a conversation about the trade agreement. How on earth is he able to negotiate anything??? We will end up on the losing side of employment. End ALL 457 visas now. Train Australian workers if you don’t have enough skilled people for the job. Training can be paid for by the government and in the long run, it will cost less, a lot less than paying out benefits. I am sure we have more than enough people to do the work needed, over 800k unemployed and over 1.1 Million under employed. Why would we need any worker from overseas!

    As for large business getting in the farming business, I am all for it, nothing wrong with making money and getting richer. But I am not for it when its at the expense of employees. If the business is not going to make a profit cause employment cost is high and the only way to make a profit is to import workers, then they shouldn’t be in business.
    I believe if they use Aussie workers they will still make a good profit but to them, they will push to get an extra 0.1% profit more at the cost of anything. It’s simply called Greed.

  21. Nasser

    Well, we all been crying for local made items. We just might get our wish, the only thing is, it will still be made by Chinese companies and Chinese workers, right here in Australia, LOCAL MADE.

    I actually believe, and have for a few years, China dominance in manufacturing will end. They will still be number 1 but many other developing countries will challenge for it, with different spots around the world becoming manufacturing hubs. Places such as Mexico, Latin America, African countries, Egypt and India, where a lot of cheap labour is available with very high employment.
    Many Chinese are becoming middle class and many workers are becoming aware of their low wages, this will push wages to be higher, even higher than normal wage cost of many other countries. That alone could be a big reason why other countries can and will challenge in the labour market.

  22. Terry2


    You are probably right but as these manufacturing hubs are created in low wage countries they will be subsidiaries of their Chinese parent companies.

  23. Anon E Mouse

    Gillard did increase and soften 457 visa rules – I recall how angry I was with her (and I think it was Martin Ferguson).
    This reinforced to me that she was from the right and prepared to do whatever it takes to hold power. There are too many in Labor and politics in general, who are prepared to sell out Australians.

    Barely a peep was heard out of the media and those unions from the right. Gina was glowing with the news though.

    The Chinese deal needs to be renegotiated or rejected. How dare they sign away our jobs.

    If Labor wants to be taken seriously, they need a leader who can stand up for Australia and Australians – and that is not Shorten and his right faction union power-brokers.

  24. Kaye Lee

    A hearing of the joint standing committee on the China-Australia FTA was held on Monday in Canberra and was addressed by Immigration and Border Protection officials.

    Department of Immigration and Border Protection first assistant secretary David Wilden said that if the free trade agreement came into effect, there would no longer be labour market testing for Chinese nurses, engineers, and other Skills Category 3 occupations.

  25. Terry2

    Gradually we are cutting through Abbott and Robb’s spin .

    Paragraph 3 of Article 10.4: Grant of Temporary Entry states that Australia shall not:

    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.

  26. stephentardrew

    Andrew rob is a self confessed liar and intellectual minnow blindly following the US reach for global hegemony regardless of the cost to ordinary Australians. In truth ordinary Australians warrant little attention other than a labor market to be regulated and held in check by greedy monopolists.

  27. diannaart

    The RC into the CFMEU, is more than ideological vengeance; it is merely another step towards disenfranchising Australian workers.

    This is a major move by global corporations – which includes the top power in China as much as it includes our own greedy capitalists, signed up politicians (from both sides) and their supporters such as the IPA, Heartland Institute and undoubtedly a whole lot more. They have been working towards this goal for years and we are still to wake up.

    Before someone accuses me of creating a world wide conspiracy – all the it is required is sufficient common interests among a diversity of people for whom their basic foundation is greed. They become ‘allies’ through perception of a common enemy – human freedom and liberty.

    Australia, an island nation can so easily be annexed from the rest of the world.

    I need to go and hide under the doona.

  28. Anon E Mouse

    This is like watching a train-wreck in slow motion. Shorten trots out lame zingers/pingers, while trying to have two-bob each way – anything to feather his nest – but not making any headway.

    Labor right-factioned power brokers stick by their man, perhaps honouring their dirty deals done behind closed doors (Howse springs to mind – he was literally sleeping with the enemy who he recently married). Greens have become the Meg Lees of Australian politics, voting with the Lib-Nats against Rudd’s ETS, to give Hockey an unlimited debt limit that he is busy trying to reach, and more recently cuts to aged pensions.

    It wouldn’t take much for a new leader from the working-poor side of politics to ensure that the moneyed elite side of politics (the Libs, Nats, Lib-lite, and even some elitist Greens) are kicked to the curb.

    Problem is that Shorten is clinging on for dear life – prepared to do a Beazley – because Albo is an honourable man, and the Greens Ludlum is sidelined.

    Its too hot for the doona up here diannaart, I will just go bush.

  29. diannaart

    I do believe there are honourable people across all parties – however, right now, the far-right faction hold sway in the LNP & Labor.

    Not so much with the Greens – they are still on ‘L’ Plates and need to learn sometimes compromise is the only option – I recall they opposed the ETS due to concern that the scheme did not go far enough:

    The reality is that if the CPRS had been passed as it stood then we’d now have a carbon price of less than 50 cents that would be next to useless in driving the necessary structural reform of the Australian economy. That’s because the original CPRS allowed for unlimited use of UN carbon credits, or CERs, and applied minimal constraints on what type could be used. We’d have ended up in a fool’s paradise buying up lots of imaginary emission reductions from dodgy synthetic gas destruction credits and other credits from Chinese renewable energy projects that, it is now evident, the government would have driven the development of anyway.

    The legal architecture of the scheme would have been vastly better than what we’re currently looking at, but the result would have been not much different. Indeed it’s even conceivable that the introduction of the ETS then may have led to a more concerted assault on a range of other carbon reduction policies in the areas of energy efficiency and renewable energy as the business community used the existence of the scheme as a subterfuge for getting rid of everything else as unnecessary.

    Now, of course it is possible that once the ETS was in and legislated back in 2009 people would have got comfortable with it and government could have ironed out the weaknesses and strengthened it later.

    Also it’s conceivable Malcolm Turnbull may have avoided the divisive debates within his own party over the ETS and may have remained as leader. This could have ensured the ETS avoided the fate of a contentious political football.

    Would that we could engage a team made up of the best of the LNP (don’t laugh – they are there), Labor and the Greens and associated independents.

    One of the KPI’s would be no connection to big business or other powerful vested interests beyond that of the community of Australia.

    … back to my doona…

  30. Lee

    “One of the KPI’s would be no connection to big business or other powerful vested interests”

    That can be difficult to establish. How would anyone know that a certain minister is acting on a promise from big business for a well paid career after politics?

  31. eli nes

    this is years old, shorten is NOT wedged if he plays the man.
    A simple anti-robb campaign may re-ruin his health but without it Aust workers are stuffed.
    There is NO requirement for a chinese chippy, electrician, plumber, cabinet maker, welder and who knows what other tradesmen to show competence or prove certification before getting a FIFO job no need for looking for a Aussie..
    However my reading is that tariffs go by 2024.
    eg 9 years head start for gina and ningbo to buy the dairies/stations and charge us the earth for left overs from cattle kept in barns and milked 3 times a day.
    last sept ‘Sep 18, 2014 – Ningbo Dairy Group runs 20,000 cows on 30 farms in China. … astonished to read how openly Ningbo will exploit loopholes in our IR system to replace Australia’s “expensive” farm workers with Chinese employees at a fraction of the cost. … you import Chinese workers to run your Australian farm at a third of the cost.’
    put this on little billy’s facebook and you will get 0 likes and 0 comments. add requests for him to attack, his jesuit big brothers the rabbutt, hockey, pyne, joyce , bullock(louise pratt is ‘unsure is she is a lesbian after her partner’s sex change’/abbott is not too bad) and other low brow catholics like robb, turnbull, albo and cormann. and you get blocked.
    – no reply/discussion/argument – just blocked by a protected man surrounded by sycophants all safe in their world without strangers.
    Speak to a labor man or woman at the grass roots and ask what they would say to their workmates who had learnt the rabbutt’s slogans so well they still remember them???
    Speak to any coppers, servicemen/women or tradie and ask how the coalition are going?
    Then get on little billy, torpid tanya, witless wong, artless albo, joel judas, the clueless conroy, the mango etc all who should be rotating through the morning shows exposing the rabbutt and their cabinet minister.
    If they all took it in turns to press the minister the media will lap it up.
    Who noticed karl baby sucking up to the rabbutt but he almost savaged hockey.
    There is room for ‘nastiness’ get selective starting with robb, kevin andrews, ‘branch stacking’ pyne(he is able to be frightened about losing his seat, my friend is in sturt and at his last meeting he was NOT taking questions on education- his portfolio?????)
    get onto their facebooks and STIR the pot

  32. diannaart


    There were/are/should be laws pertaining to employment after politics …. and enforced.

    Nothing is ever perfect, however, we can clean up a great deal from the sorry situation we have right now.

  33. Kaye Lee

    Speaking of skin in the game, Rupert has oil interests in the Golan Heights in an area Israel stole from Syria. This from 2013…

    “A local subsidiary of the New York-listed company Genie Energy — which is advised by former vice president Dick Cheney and whose shareholders include Jacob Rothschild and Rupert Murdoch — will now have exclusive rights to a 153-square mile radius in the southern part of the Golan Heights.

    “This action is mostly political – it’s an attempt to deepen Israeli commitment to the occupied Golan Heights,” Israeli political analyst Yaron Ezrahi told FT. “The timing is directly related to the fact that the Syrian government is dealing with violence and chaos and is not free to deal with this problem.”

    Israel is considering creating a buffer zone reaching up to 10 miles from Golan into Syria to secure the 47-mile border against the threat of Islamic radicals in the area.

    The move would overtake the UN Disengagement Observer Force Zone that was established in 1973 to end the Yom Kippur War and to provide a buffer zone between the two countries.

    Recent natural gas finds off Israel’s coast in the Mediterranean mean Israel’s offshore gas reserve is one of the largest of its kind in the world and will make the Jewish state a significant energy exporter in its region.”

  34. Pingback: Skin in the game – » The Australian Independent Media Network | olddogthoughts

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