A China-Australia free trade deal looks set to go ahead with tariff cuts for business to begin by the end of the year, after an agreement was reached between Australia’s two main political parties today.
Labor leader Bill Shorten made the announcement this morning, telling reporters in Canberra the Opposition had reached a compromise with the government that will mean a “speedy passage” of the agreement, according to Sky News.
Labor had previously objected to aspects of the deal and called on changes to the Migration Act to ensure better pay conditions for foreign workers.
The bill will be brought before the lower house this week and is expected to pass into law by the end of the year.
Former treasurer Joe Hockey farewells parliament
Former federal treasurer Joe Hockey has taken a swipe at the recent “rapid and unpredictable” leadership changes in politics in his farewell speech to parliament this morning.
In his valedictory speech, Hockey said it should not be the norm for Australia to have four prime ministers and treasurers in four years.
“The revolving door in Australian politics must be jammed shut,” Hockey says.
“If we don’t show enough respect to each other, then how can we hope that the electorate will respect us? The stability of the Howard government has been replaced with rapid and unpredictable changes of government on both sides. That turnover has dramatically weakened the policy hand of whoever occupies the government benches in this chamber.”
Hockey’s resignation will trigger a by-election in his seat of North Sydney, which he has held since 1996.
The former treasurer has been tipped to become the next Australian ambassador to the United States.
Shares down on open
Aussie shares have fallen this morning following a weak lead from overseas markets.
The S&P/ASX 200 benchmark was down 13.5 points, falling 0.26% to 5235.6 points at 11:31am AEST. On Saturday, the Dow Jones closed 13.43 points lower, down 0.08% to 17,217.11 points.