Wednesday, 17 June 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Treasurer: Will the Treasurer inform the House how Australia's record run of trade surpluses is helping to hasten our recovery by expanding new markets and opportunities, and is the Treasurer aware of any alternative approaches?
I thank the member for Canning for his question and acknowledge his chairmanship of the intelligence committee. He, unlike other members of that committee, has informed me that he doesn't have any secret hidden cameras in his office. But he, like members on this side of the House, are very proud of the fact that under the coalition we have increased the percentage of free trade agreements covering two-way trade from 26 per cent to 70 per cent, and the ambition is to get to 90 per cent by 2022. We have entered into free trade agreements with China, with Japan, with Korea, with Indonesia, with Peru, with Hong Kong, and there's the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This has helped create the first current account surpluses in more than 40 years. In the March quarter, the current account surplus was $8.4 billion, a record amount, and as a percentage of GDP it was the highest since June 1973.
Trade and free trade create jobs. One in five Australian jobs are related to trade. In the last five years, more than 240,000 trade related jobs have been created. Our businesses who are exporting are likely to employ 23 per cent more people and to be 13 per cent more productive and to have wages that are 11 per cent higher. And this has created jobs right across the country in businesses in every electorate of this country—like in Canning, where they have three out of the nation's six alumina refineries, in Boddington, in Wagerup and in Pinjarra. Australia is the world's largest alumina exporter, and it's those refineries that help to create $10 billion of export revenue each year.
I was asked about any alternative approaches. We know when the Labor Party were in government, when it came to trade, their position was characterised by indecision and inaction. We didn't see movement on the free trade agreement with China. We didn't see it with Japan. We didn't see it with Korea. What was their strategy when it came to trade? Well, they went to the Labor handbook and opened up chapter 1. What was it? Higher taxes—a carbon tax and a mining tax. When it came to the mining tax, what did the member for Rankin say? He said, 'The fruits of which are yet to be understood'. That's in his book. Only the coalition can be trusted to create more jobs. (Time expired)