Wednesday, 10 June 2020
Statements by Members
Western Australia: Economy
As our community prepares for the economic recovery phase following the coronavirus crisis, we recognise the importance to our local economy of international trade in both goods and services. My state of Western Australia is heavily reliant on the export of minerals from our mining industry and liquefied natural gas from our energy industry as well as agricultural products. In my suburban electorate of Moore, international education is our largest source of export income, with some 6,000 international students studying at Edith Cowan University and many more at the various vocational education and training providers based around Joondalup. Tourism also accounts for a sizeable part of our local economy, with visitors to our marina, golf course and retail centres dependent on international spending. The coronavirus crisis has seen a drastic reduction in consumer activity as a result of travel restrictions and border closures. Many local businesses are experiencing a downturn as a result of reduced numbers of international students and tourists. Domestic demand alone is not sufficient to sustain thriving local businesses.
It is concerning to learn of emerging friction with our largest international trading partner of agricultural exports and, more recently, international education. Every diplomatic effort must be made to adopt a conciliatory approach to relations. I am, of course, referring to China. Our countries share a long and important relationship which has become strained by conspiracy theories surrounding the outbreak of the coronavirus. Any international review must be independent, objective and based on evidence. It should contain constructive recommendations as to whether improving access to sanitation such as potable water and sewerage, refrigeration, better regulating food safety standards and food markets, and education could have prevented the outbreak of the disease. It should recommend constructive protocols for improving international cooperation in the event of emerging pandemics in the future. This is not about apportioning blame; it is about being constructive in securing international cooperation in managing future crises.
Early during the crisis, I had the opportunity to meet with Consul General Madam Dong Zhihua to express support for strong bilateral relations. Through diplomacy, our nations can restore a more cooperative international relationship for the mutual benefit of our citizens and facilitate the economic recovery in both our respective nations. At times, our nations may differ on issues; however, it is the shared desire for the advancement of the welfare of our citizens which unites us to a common purpose.