House debates

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Questions without Notice

Trade with the United Kingdom

2:25 pm

Photo of Celia HammondCelia Hammond (Curtin, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment. Would the minister please update the House on how the Morrison government is progressing its jobs and economic growth agenda by pursuing a United Kingdom free trade agreement?

2:26 pm

Photo of Dan TehanDan Tehan (Wannon, Liberal Party, Minister for Education) Share this | | Hansard source

Can I thank the member for her question and acknowledge her passion, in particular when it comes to international higher education and the contribution that it makes in creating 250,000 jobs in this nation. Today we've received some wonderful news. We are going to formally launch a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom, our seventh-largest trading partner. The great news about this is that—for those who can remember dating back to 1973, and, I must confess, I was a young boy growing up on a family farm—when the UK entered the European Economic Community, it had a devastating impact on our farming community. What we saw were lower quotas and higher tariffs when it came to beef, when it came to dairy, when it came to lamb and when it came to wool. And it meant, for our farmers, some very difficult times. What they learnt was that they had to diversify, and they have diversified and diversified successfully. But what this gives us is the opportunity to right that wrong. Many of them felt harmed by what the United Kingdom did in those times. And we can now fix this, because now consumers in the UK, rather than having to look at a French chop—and they're good!— will now be able to look again at an Australian chop. They won't have the choice of a Belgian steak; they'll also have a choice of a good Australian Hereford or Angus steak. And this is what we're going to be able to achieve through this FTA.

We're going to be able to do other things as well. We're going to be able to build on our services exports, and we've already got a very strong services export relationship with the United Kingdom, but that will continue to grow and it will continue to provide jobs for our local communities. And one such example of that which we've already seen is British based AstraZeneca's $200 million investment to expand manufacturing in Sydney, creating 250 jobs, resulting in a total export value of $4.4 billion over the next five years. This government wants to create an open trading environment globally, because we know that we have the competitive advantage through our economy to be able to capitalise on that and to be able to create jobs. And this free trade agreement with the United Kingdom, coupled with our endeavours to have a free trade agreement with the European Union, will once again diversify our export markets. They'll reach over 70 per cent if we can successfully land these FTAs and create more jobs in the Australian community.