House debates

Monday, 15 June 2020

Constituency Statements

Groom Electorate: Exports

10:51 am

Photo of John McVeighJohn McVeigh (Groom, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Yesterday was another magnificent milestone for Toowoomba's own Wellcamp airport. We saw the departure of a second Cathay Pacific international flight from Wellcamp to Hong Kong—that is, second on top of the flight that has been running for some time—significantly increasing the capacity for local exporters to send freight directly into Hong Kong. This coming Friday we will see Singapore Airlines commence their service direct to Singapore for the same purpose—to take freight directly into those Asian markets. This is due to assistance from the federal government through the $110 million International Freight Assistance Mechanism. It has, in effect, secured a magnificent export deal for our part of regional Queensland.

The Cathay Pacific B777 carries about 35 tonnes of produce—local beef, pork, eggs, fruit and vegetables, for example—and each flight's cargo is valued at around a million dollars, so this is a major lifeline for Darling Downs producers and exporters, who have been battling to get their products overseas due to some of the COVID impacts on other flight availability. The Singapore Airlines flight, commencing this Friday, will be the first time that Singapore Airlines leaves Wellcamp airport, so that too is a very significant milestone for our local area.

The more product we can get out the door, particularly into these export markets, means more jobs in our region, not just on farm but right through the supply chain. Whether it's chilled meat or fresh produce, it's significant that we can get direct access to markets that have access to well over half the world's population. And to do that within, say, 72 hours means that that direct access is as good, and in some cases better, than what we have to the southern markets of Australia, so these are significant opportunities for locals in particular.

I'm proud of the federal government's support for these direct linkages for our exporters. I thank sincerely the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Senator Simon Birmingham, for leading the charge and putting this support in place. Yes, it's about post-COVID-19 recovery, but it's also built on the free trade deals that the coalition government has been able to secure around the world, in this case in Asia, in recent years. I congratulate Cathay Pacific; I congratulate Singapore Airlines; and, in particular, I congratulate the Wagners on another innovation for our region.