House debates

Wednesday, 9 December 2020


Wine Australia Amendment (Label Directory) Bill 2019; Second Reading

6:43 pm

Photo of Madeleine KingMadeleine King (Brand, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Trade) Share this | Hansard source

One. That's one out of 90. I thank the member for Bruce. He's read the report; I know he's read the report. I've read the report, but no-one in the government seems to have done so.

An honourable member interjecting

Impressive? It's not impressive at all. There were 90 recommendations. One out of 90 is just over one per cent. It's a report that was issued 2½ years ago and this is all they've managed to do. And now they call for export diversification. Well, I ask: what have the government been doing? What have they been doing? It seems like it is: job done, feet up, get on a Zoom, put a couple of flags behind yourself and then pop it out on Instagram.

The Varghese report found that no single market over the next 20 years would offer more growth opportunities for Australia than India in areas as diverse as education, agriculture, energy, resources, tourism, health care, financial services, infrastructure, science and sport. As Varghese said, 'The opportunities will not fall into our lap.' Now, here's a tip for the government: that wasn't one of the recommendations; that was a warning. If you do sit back and accept a report such as this and then do nothing about it, the opportunities will not fall into our lap. You have to go and work and get it done. You have to start implementing recommendations. He even identified 20 priorities. He made the list shorter. It's a road map. They paid for the work. The government paid $1.5 million for this report. I think it's good value for money, quite frankly. It's an excellent report. The true waste is that they haven't looked at it. They haven't read it. They haven't even sought to implement, beyond one, any of the 90 recommendations. It was intended as a blueprint to boost our economic ties with India and to diversify our trading relationships, but it was buried upon its release in 2018 and it has gone nowhere. In fact, early this year the government admitted to Senate estimates that it had done remarkably little. That's where we found the confirmation that only one of the 90 recommendations had been looked at.

Underlying the Morrison government's failure to deliver on this plan to boost Australia's economic ties with India is fresh trade data showing India's share of our exports has fallen to a 17-year low. Official data released earlier this year underscored the dangers of the government's lax approach to India and its longer-term failure to adequately seek to diversify Australia's trading economy. According to the ABS, India's share of Australia's merchandise exports fell to $10.98 billion over the 12 months to 30 June. That's 32 per cent below the 2018 level, when Mr Varghese released his report. It's getting worse and worse. There is a blueprint. You haven't used it. In the meantime, our trade with India gets worse. India's share of Australia's total merchandise exports is now below two per cent. That's the lowest level since 2003. Meanwhile, China's share of Australian exports has risen to a record 48.8 per cent, highlighting our heavy reliance on a single trader and probably demonstrating the laziness of the government.

Tomorrow, the long-awaited Australia economic strategy report will be launched, led by respected ambassador Anil Wadhwa. This is a response from the Indian government to the Australian government's Varghese report. The Indian government is responding to a report that this government has entirely failed to implement or to even seek to implement. It has put it on the shelf. Frankly, this is embarrassing. I know the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment is speaking at this launch. How he will explain his failure to adopt the Varghese report, in light of Ambassador Wadhwa's report, will be, frankly, a sight to see. Obviously, I'm not invited to the launch. I wish I were. I know people who will be there and I really look forward to the report. I have met with Ambassador Wadhwa. He has high hopes for the continuing relationship between Australia and India and high hopes for our trade relationship, but I'm afraid he might be met with stony silence from a government that has refused to accept its own advice.

I will conclude shortly. I will just briefly mention Peel Estate, one of the vineyards in my electorate of Brand, which was established in 1979. As you might know, Mr Deputy Speaker Rick Wilson, being a Western Australian, Peel Estate has the oldest sangiovese vines in Western Australia; that is true. They make fine wine. They have magnificent evenings there on a Sunday—the jazz evenings. I regularly visit Will Nairn and his fantastic vineyard down at Karnup, in the south of the city of Rockingham. It is a hidden treasure of the electorate of Brand. They don't export. They're a smaller vineyard. Western Australian vineyards don't export to China as much as our South Australian friends do, so they are not as affected at this time, but those that do are very greatly affected by the very unfortunate tariffs that are imposed on their product.

I urge the government to take its feet off the table and start the hard work of the true national effort that is required to diversify. It takes years and years. It takes every minister thinking every day about what they can do in their portfolio to truly diversify what we export and who we export to. I thank the House.


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