Thursday, 4 July 2019
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Senator Birmingham. Minister, how is the government getting on with delivering for the Australian people by helping Australian business benefit from trade, tourism and investment opportunities with our G20 partners and how does this help to create a stronger economy that guarantees the essential services that Australians rely on?
I thank Senator Fawcett for his question. I know of his very deep interest and indeed knowledge, of course, in all matters of trade, foreign policy and defence. I'm pleased to inform Senator Fawcett and the Senate that Prime Minister Morrison, at the recent G20 meeting of the leaders in Osaka, in Japan, delivered strong messages to the G20 about the importance of maintaining and modernising a consistent rules based framework to facilitate trade and investment flow between Australia and other nations, but, indeed, right across the globe. This is critically important because one in five Australian jobs are trade related. Indeed, 2.2 million Australian jobs depend upon our trade relationships and trade activities as a nation.
Trade growth has been an engine behind the type of jobs growth that Australia has seen, which Senator Cash was speaking about at the commencement of question time. Indeed, one quarter of Australia's economic growth over the last five years is estimated to be attributable to our growth in trade and export activity. Trading companies pay higher wages—an estimated 11½ per cent in higher wages amongst those companies and businesses who export. Household incomes are an estimated $8,400 higher due to the type of trade liberalisation and opening-up of markets that Australia has undertaken.
Other nations are great beneficiaries of more open-market environments, and we have seen that with hundreds of millions of people lifted out of poverty throughout our region in the Indo-Pacific and particularly in Asia as a result of more open markets. Australia is committed, whether it is with large trading partners like China or smaller but no less important trading partners like our friends from Fiji, who are in the chamber at present, to make sure that we continue to advance, as the Prime Minister did at the G20, the agenda for open trading arrangements.
First and foremost, the Prime Minister worked hard with colleagues, and particularly with the support and on behalf of the government of New Zealand, to make sure that the G20 commitment to global action on preventing terrorist and violent extremist content online was delivered, with a clear message sent to internet companies to lift their efforts to ensure their platforms are not exploited and to make sure there is tough action taken, as we have done in our domestic laws in Australia, to ensure that Australians and those around the world are protected from viewing and seeing the types of horrific events that occurred in Christchurch.
But we also saw, in relation to the trade front, strong work in relation to the Osaka track, launched by Japan, which complements the e-commerce negotiations we are pursuing and leading, through the World Trade Organization, to modernise trade rules to ensure they reflect modern training arrangements as well as direct pursuit of trade negotiations with the European Union, with our ASEAN counterparts and with our other major trading partner. (Time expired)
Opening up trade markets as our government has consistently done over the last six years with our trade agreements struck with China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, and the TPP and continuing to build on other partnerships is paying dividends for Australia. Just yesterday the Australian Bureau of Statistics released data that showed Australia had recorded a record trade surplus of some $5.7 billion for the month of May this year. That record trade surplus is fuelled by a record levels of exports from Australia. Indeed, the five largest monthly trade surpluses ever recorded in Australian history have all been delivered in 2019. This is a demonstration that, as a country, we are yielding benefits of growing exports into markets, particularly where we have trade agreements in place, and that growth in exports is fuelling business growth, jobs growth and the opportunity for us to see revenue growth, which ultimately allows us to balance the budget and pay for tax cuts and tax relief for hardworking Australians. (Time expired)