Bob Hawke tells the ALP to not 'go backwards' on the China trade deal

President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Tony Abbott cheers during an offical dinner given by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Margie Abbott at Parliament House on November 17, 2014 in Canberra, Australia. President Xi Jinping of China will address parliament and attend meetings in Canberra following the G20 Leaders Summit in Brisbane. Photo: Stefan Postles/ Getty.

Former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke has told Bill Shorten and the Labor party that opposing the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement as it stands will hurt Australia’s best interests.

Speaking to The Australian, Hawke said lowering trade barriers is good for jobs, growth and economic prosperity and warned Labor “must not go backwards on this issue”.

“Of course it is in Australia’s interests — you just have to look at our history,” he said.

Bob Hawke. Photo: Getty/Bradley Kanaris

“Our growth is — we are — dependent upon international trade and growth. Gradual reduction in trade barriers … was an important part of my reform initiatives (in government).”

Hawke has always pushed strong relationships with Australian Asian neighbours.

He was the first to propose the APEC forum during a speech in Seoul, Korea on 31 January 1989.

Within 10 months of raising the idea, 12 Asia-Pacific economies met in Canberra, Australia to establish APEC. There are now 21 member economies.

Shorten has been vocal in “fight for the best trade agreement with China, for Australia”. He says his party will support a deal with China, but not in its current form.

Speaking at the Labor party national conference in July he said: “[We’re] strong in our belief in free trade, in new markets and new job opportunities.

“And equally strong in upholding Australian safety standards, Australian wages — and Australian jobs.”

The deal will come into effect later this year after it was agreed upon by Tony Abbott and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Canberra late last year.

The Australian has more.

Now read: Australian businesses are milking the China-Australia free-trade agreement.

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