Prime Minister Tony Abbott has slammed Labor for their campaign against sections of the free trade agreement with China, labelling the attack as a “racist lie”.
Labor and the unions have criticised the deal for allowing Chinese companies to bring in their own workforces for major projects.
“This is a racist lie … the ghost of the White Australia policy will come back to haunt the Labor Party,” Mr Abbott said in Parliament on Thursday.
The comments spawned from a union-funded television campaign against the FTA, with one commercial depicting a father speaking to his son about the agreement, telling him the deal will not create Australian jobs.
Labor has also probed the deal, questioning its effectiveness.
“This is what Professor, the honourable Bob Carr said yesterday, ‘There will be more jobs and higher wages in Australia if the China free trade agreement goes ahead’,” Mr Abbott said, quoting the former Labor state and federal politician.
“But still, Mr Speaker, the CFMEU is running ads and making robo calls claiming that the free trade agreement is giving Australian jobs to Chinese workers.
“This is a racist lie. The claim of the CFMEU is a racist lie. Now, Mr Speaker, we know that the Labor Party played the race card prior to the NSW election and now it’s happening again.”
The comments prompted Speaker Tony Smith to warn of unparliamentary behaviour.