House debates

Wednesday, 23 November 2022


Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023; Consideration in Detail

6:33 pm

Photo of Kevin HoganKevin Hogan (Page, National Party, Shadow Minister for Trade and Tourism) Share this | Hansard source

I get noise of agreement! It's reflected too in the statistics. We've got 16 bilateral trade agreements, with 13 of them done by this side of the House—13 of the 16! That shows that we are committed and they're not. You might think: why wouldn't they be? When you look at the wealth that trade brings, why are the other side not committed to free trade like we are? It's very easy to understand. It's because we know the unions are back in town. We know, with the industrial relations legislation and everything else, that the unions are back in town. They're running the town. They're in control of the town.

Here's a good quote for you in regard to the free trade agreement that the previous minister negotiated with the UK. The CFMMEU donated millions of bucks, as we know, to the Labor Party. The CFMMEU says, 'Our view is that the proposed agreement should be scrapped.' There you go! The puppet masters of this lot are saying they should be scrapped. The CFMMEU is saying you should scrap the deal. That's why they're not quite as committed as they would like to be. The ACTU, on the trade deal with India and Indonesia, suggested it was written in secret and had no benefits for local working people. That's why that side can't nail free trade agreements; they're not really committed to them.

They've already come out, since they've been in government, with another trade killer. The trade killer—and they've announced this—is Labor's hard-line, never-ever decision on investor-state dispute settlement provisions. Again, this is directed to them from the unions. They're completely against ISDS. They're over there agreeing. Guess what? We have over seven of those as part of our free trade agreements. If we had had them in charge, those deals wouldn't have been done, because the unions are saying, 'You can't do that.' Again, their puppet masters are saying you can't do a deal with an ISDS provision so they won't do the deals. In fact, they've said that they're going to review current FTAs and look at the ISDS provisions. So some of our FTAs are now in trouble because this lot have got in.

The issues with ISDS were articulated in a submission to the JSCOT inquiry into the Peru FTA. Those opposite might want to listen to this. The submission stated:

Opponents of ISDS in Australia's FTAs, such as unions (ACTU) … have failed to articulate a cogent case as to why they oppose it. The ACTU's claim that ISDS 'provides an avenue for foreign corporations to threaten and lodge claims for actual or potential harm resulting from changes in policy and regulation in the country in which they are investing' reflects a basic misunderstanding of how ISDS operates.

There have been 12 incidences of Australian companies bringing claims against other countries as part of these investor-state dispute protections, and it has worked for Australia. In contrast, there's only been one against us, and Australia won the case against a tobacco company. Again, the unions don't like it, so those opposite aren't allowed to like it. I ask the question of the government: when will the government fully implement the ALP policy on ISDS?

To go to tourism: our tourism sector is in trouble. Do you know what their solution to the tourism sector was? The sector is in trouble and we're trying to build our international tourism numbers. Their solution was to cut $35 million from Tourism Australia in the recent budget. My question is: how does the government justify slashing $35 million from Tourism Australia when we're trying to build tourism numbers?


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