Coalition could be wiped out by China Free Trade Agreement, new poll reveals

Published: 22 Jun 2015

Research conducted in seven marginal electorates in NSW, QLD, Victoria and South Australia has found that the overwhelming majority of voters do not support the China Australia Free Trade Agreement when they become aware of three elements of the deal.

The research was commissioned by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union. The Agreement, which was signed on Wednesday, allows:

  • Chinese companies to bring in their own workers on projects worth more than $150 million, without first advertising for local qualified workers.
  • Chinese companies to export goods to Australia without having to meet the same standards for protecting workers and the environment as Australian companies.
  • Chinese companies to sue future Australian governments if they pass laws that the company believes will have a negative impact on them.

The union's research found that the number of voters who opposed the Agreement jumped drastically from 26% before they knew anything about it, to between 85% and 92% once they were aware of the above details.

"The Abbott Government kept the details of the Agreement from voters for most of the last year, and now we know why – voters absolutely hate it," CFMEU National Secretary, Michael O'Connor said.

"Tony Abbot seems to have a plan for jobs - it's just that they are not Australian jobs.

"These features of the Free Trade Agreement with China will threaten Australian jobs at a time of high unemployment, put Australian manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage, and see even more unsafe building and other products flood our market at a time when more regulation, not less, is needed.

"This research shows how dramatically out of step the Abbott Government is with voters on this issue."

Key research findings

In the absence of any detailed knowledge of the Agreement:

  • 32% support it
  • 26% oppose it; and
  • 42% are undecided.

Once they are aware of the detail:

  • 92% of voters oppose allowing Chinese companies who are investing more than $150 million in projects in Australia to bring in their own workers without having to advertise for Australian staff.
  • 87% of voters are against allowing Chinese companies to export goods to Australia without having to meet the same standards for protecting workers and the environment as Australian companies.
  • 85% of voters oppose allowing Chinese companies to sue future Australian governments if they pass laws that the company believes will have a negative effect on them.

The polling was conducted in May 2015 by UMR Strategic Research in the electorates of Macquarie, Gilmore, Flynn, Capricornia, Hindmarsh, Corangamite and Dunkley. 



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Authorised by Michael O'Connor, National Secretary,165 Bouvier Street Carlton 3053