Tuesday, 23 February 2016
Questions without Notice
Trade with China
My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. How is the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement creating opportunity for Australian businesses overseas, and how will this lead to more jobs and growth for all Australians?
I thank the member the Durack for her question. She will know from the experiences of local businesses in her electorate of Durack that the free trade agreement with China is already bringing benefits in terms of more sales for goods and services, and that means more jobs.
Members will recall that the coalition government in 2006 commenced the negotiations for the free trade agreement with China. Then, when Labor came into office in 2007 nothing happened for six years—lost opportunities because Labor did not understand the economic importance of a free trade agreement with China. When we came back into office in 2013, Andrew Robb was assiduous in concluding free trade agreements, including with China. We have now had the free trade agreement enter into force last year and, two months later, we are already seeing the benefits in terms of more opportunities and more jobs.
There is a business in the member's electorate—the Geraldton Fishermen's Co-operative—and they have taken the opportunity under the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement to build a warehouse for live rock lobsters from WA in Guangzhou. This is the first time that a seafood company from Australia has held produce on Chinese soil. What this means is that the cooperative is now able to source and supply from Geraldton into Guangzhou live lobster—high-quality, Western Australian rock lobster—within 16 hours.
This is one of the most efficient live lobster supply chains in the world, and what it means is that the Geraldton cooperative is now positioning itself to be the market leader into China for a burgeoning industry: high-quality Western Australian seafood. And, when the tariffs hit zero in 2019, the market will be even bigger. More sales mean more jobs in Australia in the sourcing and supplying of rock lobsters.
This is a very important issue because it is all part of our economic plan for economic growth and new jobs, and Labor just does not get it. Members will recall that Labor tried to block the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. Labor tried to block new markets and new jobs.
We should have realised what was happening, because the Leader of the Opposition has form when it comes to free trade agreements.
Remember Mark Latham, the man that whey wanted to be Prime Minister of Australia? He said:
was in my ear about the FTA—
with the US—
telling me the Party has to support it. I said that I thought both he and his union were against it, to which he responded, 'That's just for the members. We need to say that sort of thing when they reckon their jobs are under threat.'
… … …
… the two faces of Little Billy Shorten: Public Shorten against the FTA, Private Billy in favour of it.