House debates

Monday, 29 February 2016

Bills

Trade Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2016; Second Reading

6:12 pm

Photo of John CobbJohn Cobb (Calare, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to speak in support of the Trade Legislation Amendment (No. 1) Bill 2016. The bill amends the Export Market Development Grants Act 1997 giving effect to several key recommendations from the 2015 review of the Export Market Development Grants scheme. Further, it improves the operation of the EMDG Act 1997, delivering savings that better align the scheme closer to its budget.

The bill makes a number of common-sense cost savings to what is a very important Australian government financial assistance program. It provides support, by way of reimbursement of eligible export promotional expenditure, to Australian small- and medium-sized businesses that want to begin exporting or grow their exports. Eligible exporters can access up to eight grants. These grants do not need to be in consecutive years; exporters can pick the years that they access the scheme, so that they can maximise the benefits that the scheme delivers. The design of the scheme recognises that developing export markets takes time.

In Calare there have been a number of great business taking advantage of, and benefiting from, this scheme. Angus Barrett Saddlery specialises in leather tanning, fur dressing and leather product manufacturing. Angus Barrett has been doing leather work and selling his handmade goods since 1986, when he was just a boy. Angus worked across Australia on farms and cattle stations and in mines and drilling camps and finally decided to settle in Orange. In 2000 Angus registered his business and started manufacturing his saddlery goods part time. In 2005 Angus purchased his first manufacturing premises and committed full time to his craft. In 2007 he undertook his first big research and development trip, travelling to the USA to enhance his saddlery skills and manufacturing techniques and to source modern machinery. Angus studied under two very experienced and talented saddlers: Randy Severe in Oregon, USA, and Joey Jemison in Texas, USA—and, having a daughter and a son-in-law involved in the horse industry in Texas, USA, I can tell you that is where the horse industry resides.

Angus is a prime example of how Calare residents and other Australians can look outside the box and to other industries for new ideas and manufacturing techniques that have helped grow his business. Angus and his wife, Sarah, continue to look for innovative ways of continuing his craft, taking his second research and development trip to Europe and the UK in 2012. His forward thinking and ability to learn from the international community have seen his business grow from a small tool box to an industry-leading business. I had the pleasure of opening his business in its modern premises a few years ago, and he has really done well. In fact, on his trips—I think it was on his trips—I think he was the first person to try cutting leather with a very modern air and sand type cutter, which does an amazing job despite actually being designed for other articles.

Other recipients in Calare include Emirates Hotels (Australia), who own and operate the award winning Wolgan Valley resort; Innotec Building Systems from Orange; Orange's Pixc Co. Pty Ltd, an internet publisher and broadcaster; Madrez Wine services, who sell the fantastic cool-climate wines being made in the Calare electorate—mind you, there are a lot of fantastic cool-climate wine producers in Orange and Calare, and I can attest to that; and Bathurst's Tru-Flo pumping, who specialise in pump and compressor manufacturing.

The bill ensures continuity of the scheme and certainty for exporters. The EMDG Act currently contains a definition of a grant year up to 30 June 2016. The bill amends the definition of a grant year so that the scheme can continue beyond this date. It also removes the requirement that a review be conducted for the specific purpose of making a recommendation about the continuity of the scheme. The scheme will still be regularly reviewed, and the amendment sets a date for the next review, with later reviews to be completed and reports given to the minister by dates determined by the minister.

In a place like Calare, we are not paper shufflers. We are not hanging around waiting for something to happen. The people of Calare are doers. They dig things up. They make things. They grow things. They create energy. We export the products of forestry, mining and agriculture in all its varied forms, whether it is horticulture, meat or wool. It is a truly wonderful part of the world, and it is the engine room of the state and one of the engine rooms of Australia.

That is why the trade situation is just so vital to it. Without trade, Australia is done for, and I guess any legislation which encourages innovation by emerging businesses or people who have never tried being involved in overseas trade or the expansion of current trade is just magnificent for regional Australia and our part of the world in particular. Of course, we have such possibilities.

I cannot underline enough the importance of this sort of legislation, which provides assistance to someone like Angus Barrett, who was running around a property a few years ago and is now a serious businessperson with serious export opportunities. Over the last year or so, we have concluded a lot of trade deals. In fact, Andrew Robb, when he was still the trade minister, was planning to come out to our electorate next month, which has kind of gone by the wayside. Our businesses have nothing against Steven Ciobo, who has now taken over the reins as Minister for Trade and Investment, but they want the new envoy, the man who was there and who did it all, to come out and explain to them what their opportunities are, and certainly we will be working towards that point. This is just another part of making not just regional Australia but the whole of Australia totally competitive, with all those businesses taking the opportunities that exist now or that can exist in the future and most certainly will exist in the future.

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