The prime minister says he hopes to seal a free trade agreement with China by mid-November when the G20 meets in Brisbane.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott is hopeful of securing a free trade agreement with China by the time of the G20 summit in November.
But Mr Abbott sounded a warning to government MPs not to jeopardise the trade talks as he responded to a coalition party room meeting question about foreign investment in agriculture and real estate.
The prime minister said Australia needed the free trade deal being negotiated with China, and he hoped to seal it by the time of the Group of 20 leaders summit which he is chairing in Brisbane in November.
He also wanted to get as good a deal for agricultural exports as New Zealand secured with China in 2008.
Mr Abbott was questioned in the party room meeting on the government’s approach to foreign investment.
He said the government had a clear commitment to changing the foreign investment rules for agricultural land and agribusinesses.
The changes are expected to include dropping the threshold for approvals and easing the rules for state-owned enterprises.
Mr Abbott added he was conscious of the potential impact of foreign investment in driving up the cost of housing in capital cities.
However he said no one should do anything to jeopardise a good outcome from the FTA.
The prime minister also told the meeting that, subject to confirmation, he expected the parliament would hold special sittings of both houses in November to hear speeches from some visiting G20 nation leaders.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten criticised the government’s handling of negotiations with China, saying it was more focused on getting pen to paper than the content of the agreement.
Mr Abbott’s self-imposed deadline would come to the detriment of Australia’s trading power, he said.
Labor will closely examine any possible deal.
“They seem more focused on booking a venue for the signing ceremony than examining the fine print,” the Labor leader told a farmers conference in Canberra on Tuesday.
“We should stay at the table for as long as it takes to get the right deal in Australia’s national interest.”