China ties should be about jobs, Andrews tells Canberra

Premier Daniel Andrews has taken a swipe at the federal government over its plan to rip up Victoria’s controversial Belt and Road agreement with China.

Speaking after Friday morning’s National Cabinet meeting in Canberra, Mr Andrews said the agreement was all about Victorian employment and that Australia’s relationship with the Communist superpower might improve if the Commonwealth focused on jobs.

Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews and Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a national cabinet press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on Friday Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

The Premier’s comments came after Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the post-cabinet press conference that his government intended to go ahead with its assessment of the Victoria-China agreement, which is expected to result in the deal being vetoed by the Commonwealth.

Powerful new foreign veto laws, which passed federal Parliament on Tuesday, give Victoria three months to explain to the federal government why its deal with the Chinese government is in Australia's national interest and should be allowed to continue.

Mr Morrison told Thursday’s briefing that there was no intention to deviate from those plans.

“We will follow through on the legislation that has passed the parliament in accordance with the process we’ve set there and make the appropriate assessments and then make any decisions from there,” the Prime Minister said.

Mr Andrews was quick to add to Mr Morrison’s comments, saying the agreement was all about trade and jobs.

“The agreement, like all agreements that Victoria enters into, and I expect the Commonwealth and other states are no different. It's all about making sure that more Victorian product is sent to our biggest and smallest customers,” the Premier said.

“Whether it's to China or any other part of the world, it's all about jobs.

“We would be probably better off in our relationship if all of us focused on the fact, and I think the Prime Minister and all of us … are all about having the best economic partnerships with customers, large and small, in every part of the world because that means jobs and prosperity and profitability for families back home.”

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