Thursday, 5 March 2020
My question is to Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment and the Minister for Decentralisation and Regional Education. Will the minister outline to the House how the Morrison-McCormack government is ensuring resilience in our trade sector and how this approach is benefiting regional communities?
I thank the member for Nicholls for that very-well-crafted and incisive question. It is much appreciated. I was reading through the Otis papers the other day, and there is a member on that side of the House who could use a bit of a hand with his questions, as I understand it. It's the member for Hunter. I think it would be great if you could give him some tips on writing well-crafted questions.
Our ambitious trade agenda has resulted in resilience for the trade sector and for country Australia. We've got more Australian businesses exporting goods. We've had more than 53,000, including 46,000 small to medium-size enterprises exporting goods in 2017-18. We've got more jobs, Member for Nicholls. With one in five Australians employed in trade-related employment, it's estimated that more than 240,000 trade-related jobs have been created in the last five years.
Member for Nicholls, in terms of Victoria, you might be interested to know that today the ABS announced that we posted a trade surplus of $5.21 billion in the month of January in seasonally adjusted terms, with good exports in Victoria, having grown to just over $2 billion. This is on top of our largest ever calendar year trade surplus of $67.6 billion in 2019. This is now a record 25 consecutive monthly trade surpluses. Our ABS data also showed that in 2019 Australia exported approximately $47.9 billion worth of rural goods, which is an increase of $225 million on 2018. I note that in January rural exports rose 5.7 per cent—a very encouraging result.
We on this side of the House know that the export strength of Australia is built on country Australia and country communities, and the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Agriculture agree. We know that one of the things that's really helped our country communities and our farmers through this most recent drought is that stock prices have held up, so when producers have had to sell they haven't had to sell their stock for a pittance they can get a decent return. Our free trade agreements have played an important role in supporting those stock prices and building resilience in the trade sector but also building resilience in our country communities.
On this side of the House we're going to support agriculture and we're going to support agricultural resilience. On that side of the aisle, we know what's in store for agriculture with their policies. It's cattle culling with their crazy, reckless emissions reduction policies—
We're going to support miners and the mining industry. We say to those opposite: support our free trade agreements, support country Australia and support the jobs so vital to country Australia. (Time expired)