Thursday, 12 November 2020
Questions without Notice
Minister representing the minister for trade, don't China's trade sanctions and threats make a mockery of free trade agreements? Will your government now adopt self-reliance and recreation of industry as policy imperatives: all cars purchased under a government contract Australian made; 22 per cent ethanol mandate, as exists in Brazil; laws dictating water supply; and sewerage pumps be made in Australia. Minister, doesn't the free market's belt and road reinstate the convict colony?
I thank the member for his question. It's an incredibly important question. As he would know, the Australian government has chosen not to enter into a written agreement on the BRI. One thing that he can be absolutely certain of is that we will pursue our national interest, and we will pursue our national interest strongly. There have been reports about China placing restrictions on our exports, and we find these deeply troubling. As a matter of fact, there was another report today about logs being part of these restrictions, and that's going to impact the port of Portland and parts of my electorate—
Honourable members interjecting—
Mr Speaker, I could hear what the member was saying. He actually wanted to be able to hear the answer. He sees this as something that's incredibly important, and he wasn't able to hear it. He was actually asking for the interjections on the other side—
I was just trying to point out what he was trying to say, Mr Speaker. Member for Kennedy, I don't know whether you can now hear me, but thank you for your question.
The Australian government has chosen not to enter into a written agreement on the BRI, and we will pursue our national interest incredibly strongly and stand up for it at all times. We've heard reports about China placing restrictions on our exports, and these are deeply troubling. As a matter of fact, today there were more reports about logs out of the port of Portland having restrictions placed on them. This is something that the member for Barker and I are particularly concerned about. But Chinese authorities have denied these rumours, and we welcome these statements. Given these denials, we would expect Chinese authorities to work as effectively as possible to resolve trade issues in a timely way. We recognise that there are a range of factors behind each trade issue. In the main, China has been at pains to talk about the technical aspects. China has alleged noncompliance with various technical import requirements. One of the benefits of ChAFTA, the free trade agreement that we have with China, is that it gives us the parameters to work through these disputes, and that's what we will be seeking to do with China.
When it comes to import replacements such as ethanol, Australian government policies allow for ethanol in fuel, and, as the member would be aware, Queensland and New South Wales actually have E10 standards. We would encourage other states and territories to adopt similar approaches.