House debates

Monday, 15 June 2015

Private Members' Business

Trade

11:36 am

Photo of Jim ChalmersJim Chalmers (Rankin, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition) Share this | Hansard source

The great Craig Emerson—I take that interjection. He is a wonderful man. As I and other speakers have said, Japan is already Australia's second largest agricultural export market, worth about $4 billion last year and also our second biggest market for non-agricultural goods—something like $42 billion in 2013. Korea is our third largest export market and our fourth largest trading partner, with two-way trade valued at $30.5 billion last financial year.

On this side of the House, our concerns with the Japan agreement were that it did not go far enough on sugar, and our concerns with the Korean agreement were that it had that ISDS investor-state clause, that Labor would not have agreed to in government. But our support for the two agreements with Korea and Japan goes to our support of free trade deals that are on balance good for Australian consumers and businesses.

Labor will take the same approach when it comes to the China agreement and other deals on the horizon. We are expecting the full details of the China deal to be released this week. It should have been released already, and we know it has been finished for some time. When we do come to examine it, Labor will determine on balance if it is in Australia's interests. We hold concerns about key agricultural goods being left out and that it will have an ISDS provision, and we are concerned, as other speakers have said, about the likely labour market arrangements as well. But we also recognise this is an historic opportunity to expand Australia's trade with China, something both sides of the House are interested in.

The National Australia Bank, for example, says that the agreement offers considerable potential for Australian agricultural and services firms and will level the playing field with other countries that already have an FTA with China. So when we consider the China deal in detail, we will factor in these advantages for Australian producers and consumers.

We also saw the Trans-Pacific Partnership make the news this weekend as the US Congress voted down the President's Trade Promotion Authority, as the member for Perth mentioned in her contribution. Two weeks ago, I participated in a forum hosted by the member for Canberra, with the member for Perth and 100 or more locals interested in the TPP. It was great to see the community so keen to understand the complex issues at play in that partnership.

Labor does have some real concerns about what we know about the partnership so far, especially when it comes to copyright restrictions, pharmaceuticals and investor-state settlement mechanisms. We do need a full and proper discussion of the merits of any agreement so that we can come to an on-balance assessment of the deal and decide whether it is in Australia's national interests. That is why the government should undertake some real economic modelling of the deal. We know from our briefings that this has not been carried out, and we call on the minister for trade to undertake detailed economic modelling of the TPP so we can get a better understanding of its merits.

Trade is attracting a great deal of interest not just in this parliament but around the community. That is a good thing if it helps us reach a considered position consistent with our beliefs and beneficial for our economy. We are supportive of some of the work done to reach agreements over the last 18 months, but we need to ensure that the China agreement and the TPP, and all trade agreements on the horizon, are in the national interest. If they are, and if they are good for jobs and consumers, we will support them.

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