Premier Daniel Andrews insists Victorian involvement in China's controversial belt and road initiative is still a good deal for the state, but the state opposition has vowed to dump the agreement if it wins office in 2022.
Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese also reiterated last week that he wouldn't sign Australia up to China's signature infrastructure program if he becomes prime minister.
Victoria struck a non-legally binding deal with the communist country under the initiative last year.
The agreement allows Victoria's engineering and design firms to bid for contracts for belt and road initiative projects around the world.
The Chinese government will also encourage its country's building firms to establish a presence in Victoria and bid for state government infrastructure projects.
Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien said China slugging hefty tariffs on Australian barley - affecting some Victorian farmers - shows the deal is a "dud" which has little to do with Victoria's economic gain.
"This is not about trade, this is not about jobs. This is all about political influence," he told reporters on Tuesday.
The barley tariffs were introduced last month as diplomatic tensions between Canberra and Beijing soared, after Australia pushed for an inquiry into the origins of coronavirus.
Mr Andrews maintains Victoria's belt and road deal, along with many others the state has with China, is "all about jobs".
Chinese companies which have been investing in Victorian projects such as the Metro Tunnel have been employing tens of thousands of local workers, he said.
The leader stressed that doesn't mean he is turning a blind eye to China's human rights record.
He noted his support for Australia's statement, alongside the United Kingdom, United States and Canada, scolding China over new security laws aimed at protesters in Hong Kong.
"We don't agree with China on everything," Mr Andrews told reporters.
"But if you want a good trading relationship, if you want to send more Victorian-made product to China, to create jobs here in Victoria, then a good relationship on the things you can agree on is very, very important."
Asked in parliament about Mr Albanese and other federal Labor MPs not wanting to sign Australia up to the program, Mr Andrews was unperturbed.
"Some may be happy to take their orders from Canberra - I'm not one of them," he told the chamber.
Greens Leader Samantha Ratnam said Victorians deserved more details about what the belt and road deal involved.
A reduced number of politicians returned to state parliament on Tuesday for the first Victorian sitting day since late April, when emergency laws around COVID-19 were passed.
Debate is set to resume on a number of bills, including government legislation aimed at lifting the state's moratorium on onshore gas exploration and banning fracking.
A bill to crack down on wage theft is also up for debate.
Australian Associated Press