Tuesday, 19 February 2019
Wine Australia Amendment (Trade with United Kingdom) Bill 2019; Second Reading
I'm certainly pleased to sum up the Wine Australia Amendment (Trade with United Kingdom) Bill 2019. This bill facilitates the continued trade in wine between Australia and United Kingdom in the event of a Brexit transition period. The trade in wine between Australian and the UK is currently facilitated by the agreement between Australia and the European Community on trade and wine. This wine agreement will cease to apply to wine trade between Australia and the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit, or at the end of any Brexit transition period. The bill amends the definition of an EC country in the Wine Australia Act 2013 to include the UK during a Brexit transition period. This will ensure the beneficial conditions for wine trade continue to apply between Australia and the UK during a Brexit transition period.
It's certainly an important bill. It's important to Australia's wine exporters as well as the wine industry more broadly. It's important that the parliament supports continued market access and trade relationships that enable our wine industry to grow. I would note that, having had the privilege of serving as Australia's trade minister, we had a lot of very constructive conversations with the EU and the UK. In particular, my then counterpart Dr Fox and I were pleased that Australia was, in fact, the very first country with whom the UK formed a joint working group to look at the nature of our trade relationship post-Brexit and that we have had an officials-level working group, which has been in place now coming up to two or three years and is doing very important work.
I'd also note, of course, that we have a large number of trade agreements that it's taken the Liberal and National government to put in place. I heard comments from opposition speakers talking about the relevance of these trade deals, but I would note that it's only been under this government that we've been able to put in place the market access that has seen a profound boost in Australia's wine exports. We, as a government, were able to put in place the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, the Japan-Australia free trade agreement and the free trade agreement with South Korea. We were able to put in place the additional Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with Singapore in terms of its subsequent iteration. The work that we did on the comprehensive and progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership made sure I was able to lock that in on behalf of Australia. The work we did put in place the Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement. We were able to include negotiations around the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. We were able to commence negotiations for an FTA with the European Union as well as work with the Pacific Alliance countries of Colombia, Mexico, Chile and Peru. All of these are in place or underway because of the work of the Liberal-National government. I would highlight to opposition members who spoke in relation to this bill that Labor was frankly unable to start and conclude any deals when they were in office for six years. They did not commence and conclude a single trade deal in that six-year period, and yet in the six-year period that we've been in government I just outlined a very comprehensive list.
What does all this mean? It means that we've been able to give Australia's wine producers incredible market access—so much so now that China is our single largest export market for Australian wine. I would remind opposition members that it was until one minute to midnight when Labor suddenly reversed their position. The Australian Labor Party were campaigning under the guise of, of course, the union movement against the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. The Labor Party was opposed to the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement until one minute to midnight, and then they suddenly had a conversion on the road to Damascus, so to speak. So Australians can know full well that the incredible market access that we have had to markets like China, Japan, Korea, Peru, Singapore and, in time, the European Union are all a direct consequence of the Liberal-National government.
I also note comments made by, for example, the member for Bendigo and others in relation to graphic indicators. I think it's a terrific shame that the Australian Labor Party is seeking to spook Australia's exporters, and in particular our wine exporters. There can be no doubt that there are elements of the European Union—certain stakeholders and constituencies—which have sought to establish a claim around geographic indicators. It's hardly new. Australia has worked in a comprehensive and constructive way with the European Union historically. For example, we agreed to have a geographic indicator around champagne and saw the creation of an entirely new category in Australia of sparkling wine. Just because we have done that historically doesn't mean that we'll do it in the future and doesn't mean we'll do it as part of this FTA. It demonstrates the bona fides of Australia in these negotiations. It's precisely the reason why it's taken a Liberal-National government to be able to approach with maturity and a highly evolved trade negotiation team that have been able to talk to these issues through and work in a constructive way.
Ultimately, we know this is about boosting Australian exports, which in turn boosts Australian jobs. For all of those reasons, I'm certainly very pleased that the Labor Party is perhaps begrudgingly supporting this amendment. I'm very pleased that we will continue to see very strong exports of wine from Australia to the UK. I commend the bill to the House.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.