House debates

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Economy

2:03 pm

Photo of Trent ZimmermanTrent Zimmerman (North Sydney, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister update the House on the Morrison government's JobMaker plan to drive our recovery from the coronavirus pandemic? In particular, how will building an outward-looking, open and sovereign trading economy, including negotiating a United Kingdom free trade agreement, create jobs and economic growth?

2:04 pm

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for North Sydney for his question. The government's JobMaker plan is a plan to ensure that we restore and grow jobs in this country to get Australians back into work so they can restore their fortunes and the many things that have been taken from them through this economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic. A key part of that is the principle that Australia will always remain an open trading economy. Australia will not shrink as a result of this crisis. We will grow again and we will look outward for that growth, as well as inward, as we reclaim those jobs that have been taken from Australians.

We will also ensure that we are part of trusted, tested and secure supply chains. Our performance as a government when it comes to trade speaks for itself. Exporters now have access to 1.7 billion extra consumers since we first came to government in 2013, and 70 per cent of our two-way trade is now covered by export agreements, up from by 26 per cent when we were first elected. Some 8,947 more businesses are exporting under the term of this government. Under the previous government's six years in government, the number of businesses actually fell by over 50. Two hundred and fifty thousand extra jobs were created in the traded sector before the COVID crisis hit and 2019 saw a trade surplus of $67.6 billion, and that was after inheriting a trade deficit from those opposite of some $10 billion. Even in the most recent March quarter, 0.5 per cent was added to the quarterly growth because of net exports, ensuring that the outcome in the March quarter saw that we were one of the best-performing developed economies in the world as we go through the COVID crisis.

The IA-CEPA will come into effect on 5 July. I spoke to President Widodo again this week, and we are very much looking forward to that coming into effect in just a few weeks time. The EU free trade agreement has been a topic of regular engagement between me and the trade minister and our counterparts in many European nations, and we have been engaging with those European nations through the course of the COVID crisis. And, today, the UK free trade agreement negotiations formally opened. I look forward to the trade minister advancing that cause in both countries' interests to ensure we can achieve the significant outcomes that we believe will be available. Only one per cent of their beef imports, seven per cent of their wine imports and one per cent of their horticultural and dairy imports come from Australia. The United Kingdom having been part of the EU for so long, there is now a great opportunity for us to re-engage trade with them. (Time expired)