Senate debates

Thursday, 4 August 2022

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers


3:19 pm

Photo of James McGrathJames McGrath (Queensland, Liberal National Party, Shadow Assistant Minister to the Leader of the Opposition) Share this | Hansard source

I would like to support the contribution and the motion moved by my friend Senator Colbeck. There is a fascinating fact that I want people to know about. It's a fun fact for kids up there in the gallery to take home and tell mum and dad and ask, 'Did you know this?' When it comes to free trade, how many free trade agreements were signed by the Labor Party when they were last in government? How many were signed? Show us your fingers. How many do you think were signed, school students? I'll tell you how many were signed. It wasn't five, it wasn't four, it wasn't seven, it was zero—a big, fat zero. It was a big, fat, ugly zero. That's how many free trade agreements were signed by the Labor Party when they were last in power. That's just a terrible record when it comes to free trade.

The issue with the Labor Party is that there's a word in free trade that they don't like, and that is 'free'. The Labor Party don't like freedom. They don't like the fact that businesses can get out there and make a buck. They don't like the fact that businesses can get out there, make some money, employ some people and grow the economy. We all like Senator Farrell, but, when he was talking about free trade agreements, he made a Freudian slip. It was a classic Freudian slip because he wasn't talking about negotiating a free trade agreement: it was about negotiating an enterprise agreement.

What we see here is the mindset of the modern Labor Party, which is driven by the union movement. The union movement was the biggest handbrake on the development, signing and ratification of any of the free trade agreements that the previous coalition government signed. We signed free trade agreements with countries all over the world because—guess what?—Australia is an island. We're a trading nation. In Australia we make, produce and manufacture enough food to feed our population plus another 50 million people. We grow enough food in this country for 75 million people, so we need to make sure that food, for those 50 million people, doesn't sit in the warehouses and the paddocks but gets off this country—whether it's via plane, boat or slingshot; I don't care how it gets out of Australia—gets overseas and feeds people overseas.

I don't want to raise it, but we should also remember that the Labor Party is the party who, when last in power, not only did not sign a single free trade agreement but also cut off a country's main supply of protein. A previous senator in this place—the agriculture minister Joe Ludwig—watched a program, and something happened upstairs in his brain, and he cut off the protein supply to Indonesia, one of our most important neighbours for trading and for geopolitical reasons. Because of a TV program, the Labor Party cut off the protein supply to that country. They not only did that but also devastated the cattle industry in Queensland and the Northern Territory. We won't take lessons from the Labor Party and their allies there in the Greens Party, who think food comes from the fridge and it's made by a magical mystery machine—


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