An outspoken Nationals MP is under fire for labelling federal Labor hypocritical over its push to increase Australia’s refugee intake.
George Christensen tweeted a picture comparing the Abbott government’s plan of “job-creating free trade giving Aussies jobs first” with Labor’s desire to accept 20,000 refugees “who can take Aussie jobs”.
Labor senator Jenny McAllister told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday that Prime Minister Tony Abbott haul Mr Christensen into line.
Government minister Jamie Briggs described the tweet as “unhelpful” in the context of discussions about accepting more Syrian refugees.
But Nationals MP Matt Canavan agreed with Mr Christensen telling reporters Labor was running about calling for labour market testing in the China free trade agreement to protect Australian jobs, while also wanting to double the refugee intake.
“They’re happy to be generous to people if you happen to live in the Middle East, but extremely xenophobic to people if you happen to live in North Asia.”
Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen labelled it a “pretty extraordinary scare campaign”.
“We’re talking about a humanitarian crisis here and we’ve got a government MP warning that refugees will take your jobs,” he said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said it was wrong to talk about more refugees causing job losses.
“It’s very important that Mr Abbott rein in some of his MPs on the far right who saying that somehow taking more refugees will cost Australian jobs,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“We need to stamp out that sort of ridiculous rubbish and call it for what it is.”