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.