House debates

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Questions without Notice


2:15 pm

Photo of Bob KatterBob Katter (Kennedy, Katter's Australian Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment. China has contempt for free trade in unapologetically cancelling all our coal exports. Surely hasn't this, and the vanishing of Australia's secondary industries—inter alia glass, appliances, oil refining, underwear, motor vehicles, which are all gone—destroyed what little was left of free market credibility? McEwen's aggressive nationalistic trade policies created the Japanese market, replacing Britain, which vanished into the EU. Haven't the coalminers been the pathfinders in increasing global coal exports by finding the VIP world—Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines? Who needs China?

2:16 pm

Photo of Dan TehanDan Tehan (Wannon, Liberal Party, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for his question. Obviously the trading relationship we have with China is a very significant one for this nation, including for our coal exporters. It's worth $229 billion.

When it comes to secondary industries, through the great work the minister is doing through her manufacturing strategy, we're starting to make sure that our manufacturers are supported. I'll take underwear as an example, member for Kennedy. If you want to get some local underwear you can go to Beaufort and you can get very high-quality merino there in my electorate. There are budgie smugglers; they are a very good producer of underwear in this country. Of course, everyone would remember—and should know about—aussieBum. I hope you all know about aussieBum, which also produce very high-quality underwear.

When it comes to our free market policies, I will say to the member for Kennedy that our free trade agreements now cover 26 countries. We have taken the preferential access from 26 per cent now to cover 70 per cent of our markets. The member rightly mentioned Blackjack McEwen and the work that he did when it came to Japan. One of the great things this government has been able to do is to build on the foundations of that work that Blackjack McEwan did. We did it by signing a free trade agreement with Japan in 2014. Japan now takes 9.1 per cent of our total trade.

We're going to pursue opportunities for Australian exporters. We're doing that at the moment with the United Kingdom and the European Union. As the member for Kennedy knows, there was great disappointment amongst Australian exporters, and especially agricultural exporters, when the UK turned towards the European Union. Right now we're in the process of righting that wrong. We want to make sure that we get comprehensive free trade agreements with the UK. We also want to get them with the EU because we want to be backing our exporters when it comes to coal, when it comes to all our agricultural exporters, when it comes to services and when it comes to investment.

Why do we want to do this? It's because trade creates jobs, member for Kennedy. One in five jobs right across this nation are created by trade, and one in four when it comes to regional and rural Australia. That's why we're pursuing free trade agreements, because jobs depend on them.