House debates

Thursday, 13 September 2018


Customs Amendment (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership Implementation) Bill 2018, Customs Tariff Amendment (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership Implementation) Bill 2018; Second Reading

11:42 am

Photo of David GillespieDavid Gillespie (Lyne, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

It is my great pleasure to speak in favour of the Customs Amendment (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership Implementation) Bill 2018 and the Customs Tariff Amendment (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership Implementation) Bill 2018, because they will allow the ratification of the TPP-11, which is one of the most comprehensive trade deals ever negotiated. It will eliminate tariffs and allow us to trade in a much more beneficial manner with 11 countries with a combined GDP of $13.8 trillion, and it will give us better access to 500 million customers around the Americas and Asia—in Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Many people have spoken in this chamber already, and I'm very pleased to hear that our colleagues in the opposition have seen fit to promote and support this legislation. The member for Blaxland's comments were noted quite eagerly. Common sense, business sense, history and analysis show that trade delivers jobs. Australia is a trading nation, and this TPP-11 will give a massive boost to people in this country who trade, like our farmers, our manufacturers, our service providers and our small-business men and women. All exporters are big winners. Exports means Australian jobs that involve exporting are a lot more secure and jobs will grow when trade grows. History is full of examples. If you go back through the history of time, in the Mediterranean there were the Phoenicians and the Egyptians. In the Middle Ages there were the Venetians. The Dutch built great empires out of trading. The United Kingdom traded and became very wealthy as a result.

Trade delivers income for our nation and it delivers growth in jobs. In 2017, nearly one-quarter of Australia's exports, worth $92 million, went to TPP-11 countries. So this agreement and this ratification process, which is enabled by these two bills and another one before the House, means that we will get better access and a reduction in tariffs. History has shown that trade delivers growth, wealth and jobs for the nation that's trading. There has been extensive modelling demonstrating exactly that. Analysis by Brandeis International Business School, Johns Hopkins University and the Minerals Council and many other business and economic modelling demonstrates that we will see an increase of $15½ billion in net annual benefits to our national income by 2030.

There are people in Australia who don't really appreciate what exporting does for our nation. We are a net exporter of all the raw food products that people depend upon around the world, whether it's beef, sugar, dairy or grains—you name it. We export food stuffs practically all around the world. If we weren't exporting, there is no way that the Australian market could cope with the amount of food and fibre that we produce.

The coalition has been supporting free trade, as you know. We've had agreements with Japan and Korea. They have been enormously beneficial for people who are exporting. You don't have to be a big individual business that is seen as an exporter. Beef producers and dairy producers in my own electorate of Lyne are exporters. Whether they're exporting through Wingham Beef Exports or meat processing or cheese producing in Wauchope, they're all able to export on more beneficial terms because of this agreement.

The words that we've heard coming from members of the Greens and Centre Alliance are not reassuring, because it just demonstrates that they don't understand the benefits of trade. We have sugar millers and sugar producers up and down the east coast of Australia. Improved access to Asian markets and the big new ones, Mexico and Canada, will be exponentially beneficial to people in the sugar industry. My colleagues in Page, Dawson, Capricornia and Flynn—all these people will have business men and women producing sugar that will get better access.

I've got winemakers in my electorate who export into the Asian markets. Better access into Canada and Mexico will open up greater export opportunities. As for wool producers, the member for Kennedy mentioned in former times that trade and tariff reductions ruined the wool industry. I think he's been misguided in his analysis. We have had some industries that have become uncompetitive, but I would respectfully advise the member for Kennedy that free trade is not the cause of the demise of some of our industries; it's us becoming inefficient because of green tape, industrial tape, red tape and, as he also mentioned, an increase in electricity. But, for our raw product exporters, free trade is the lifeblood that they depend upon.

It's not just raw product producers but also service industries that will benefit from this agreement. It's so important that we ratify it. People that run IT, data management, architecture, engineering and service industries in mining and agriculture will get better access to the emerging nations in Asia and, as I mentioned, Canada and Mexico. Recent reforms in the professional services sector in areas such as Vietnam will allow us better access than other countries that aren't party to this deal. Legal and architectural services in particular are getting a really great deal out of this. For mining equipment services and technologies, which are our bread and butter because we have some of the best mining engineers and mining and engineering service companies, Mexico is changing its regulations. This will give them preferential access into that new expanding market.

In this deal, as I mentioned, individual producers of cotton, sugar, beef and dairy are in effect exporting, because it's not all consumed in Australia, but other services in the small and medium-sized enterprises get access on preferential terms to those that aren't part of this wonderful TPP-11. Service industries that could potentially export exist in my area. We have a lot of young IT companies in Taree that are developing services that they could export into this area.

As I mentioned, there has been some reluctance from members of the Greens and Centre Alliance and from the member for Kennedy. This agreement has been analysed by four committees. Several of them have reported already, in a favourable sense. The whole world analyses these trade deals because it understands that trade brings wealth. Exporting goods brings wealth into our nation, and it means that those businesses can employ and grow, and that's what Australians want. They want us to have a strong economy because the economy delivers the income, for governments state and federal, that provides all the services that we depend upon and the funds for our pensions. It's so important that we grow our exports, and this agreement will do that.

There was some reluctance from the member for Blaxland. He mentioned labour market testing in his speech. I just want to make a few comments about that. I can understand where he's coming from. If you're in an industry in regional Australia, the hassle of trying to get overseas workers to come to your area is considerable. There's nothing in this agreement that means anyone will get a lower wage or have different standards of qualification; all those things have to be met. There is labour market testing. Every company advertises jobs. The first place they go is to the local market. They only turn to overseas workers if they can't get people in regional Australia or people with the skills that they need for their job. In effect, there is always practical labour market testing rather than hamstringing the agreement by putting in things that our trading partners don't see as free and equitable trade terms. It's interesting to see that since we've signed these trade deals with China, Japan and Korea, where this issue that there'd be a flood of overseas workers was brought up, the number of overseas 457 workers has actually reduced.

The nature and timing of this agreement are important. If we don't get this ratification process through promptly, we will deliver a competitive advantage to other people who have signed up. We need to get these ratification processes in train. That's why we need to understand that time is important, because I want my dairy producers, my beef producers, my nearby sugar producers and all my service industries to be able to compete on favourable terms. As you know, we are a competing nation with New Zealand for dairy exports. They're party to this agreement as well. We wouldn't want to lag behind our nearby neighbours in competing in the dairy space, for instance. Our beef producers from Wingham are big exporters. Most of it goes to Japan and Korea.

The terms we already have in the existing agreements get improved by this. Nothing is worse. I can't see why anyone would have any reluctance, when you really appreciate the massive growth of trade and wealth for the nation, to support this bill. The agreement will come into force 60 days after ratification, and several countries have already ratified it. We need to get on board and get our processes in place.

The last comment I'd like to make is about the ISDS provisions, which a lot of the opponents of free trade throw into the mix to justify not going ahead with free trade agreement. The ISDS provisions have existed in all our trade agreements in shapes or forms since we've started having trade agreements, because they protect people from Australia who are trading in those countries as much as people trading in Australia with our regulations. It puts a level playing field in there. The other thing that is thrown up to oppose this is that it will change the way our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and intellectual property rights in Australia will change and that the PBS system of getting subsidised medicines would change. Those provisions won't change. It has been very well negotiated that our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme won't be adversely impacted by trade sanctions under the ISDS. It was a red line that none of our trade agreements would ever cross.

So I say full steam ahead. It's an excellent deal for Australia. It's an excellent deal for people who are exporting. It will increase trade and it will increase the wealth of the nation, because trade brings jobs. A strong economy makes the wonderful services that all our people depend upon. Their health services, their education services, their pension and all the other things that governments provide come from taxes that we raise from our economy. We need a strong economy. We've been delivering massive jobs growth, in part because of these earlier trade deals. I commend this bill to the House.


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