House debates

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Questions without Notice


2:57 pm

Photo of Gavin PearceGavin Pearce (Braddon, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I have an important question for the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment. Will the minister update the House on how the Morrison government is defending Australia's trade interests in the global rules based trading system, and is the minister aware of any alternative arrangements?

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

I thank the member for Braddon for his question. His electorate exports out of Australia right around the world, and he understands how important our trade policy is. Our trade policy has been proactive, it's been principled, and it's been patient. It's those three Ps that we've adopted because they're an important way for us to conduct our trade policy. We've had nine FTAs concluded since we came to government. That's taken the amount of trade covered by FTAs from 27 per cent to 75 per cent, with the conclusion of the UK FTA. We have been principled because, when you're standing up for your exporters, you have to take a principled stand. You can't be wishy-washy. You have to take a principled stand. That's exactly what we've done when we've stood up for our exporters, especially when they have faced economic coercion. And we've been patient because, when you are going to get reform of the World Trade Organisation, you have to make sure that you can work with other countries, take the time, and get the reform that you need.

I've been asked about alternative policies. The first approach that I've heard from those opposite is the forked tongue policy. This is when you're having a bet each way. When you're asked about our current trade disputes with China and how you would resolve them, what do you say? 'I would like China to withdraw some of the actions that are being taken to stop Australian products going to China'—the Leader of the Opposition. So is it our rock lobster fisheries in Western Australia, our barley growers in South Australia, our beef producers in Queensland?

Who misses out? We need to know, from the Leader of the Opposition. You can't have a bet each way when it comes to these policies.

Then the other approach—and this is a beauty too!—is the Labor-Greens unity ticket policy. Surprise, surprise. Guess what the Greens want to do if they're in coalition with Labor at the next election. They want to review each one of our FTAs. And guess what the current policy of the Labor Party is when it comes to our FTAs. They want to review every single one of our FTAs. You're not focused on negotiating new ones. You're not out there focusing on what you would do with India. They're there saying they would renegotiate all our FTAs. You know what that means. That means you would put in jeopardy every one of our exporters by renegotiating those FTAs that now cover 75 per cent of our exports.

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I'll send out a general request from the chair: I know there is a natural desire to want to address members on your side, but it's helpful when ministers talk into the microphone.