Tuesday, 1 December 2020
Treaties Committee; Reference
I, and also on behalf of Senator Lambie, move:
That the following matter be referred to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties for inquiry and report by 30 June 2021:
The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) which entered into force on 20 December 2015, including, but not limited to:
(a) the implications of political and economic change in China for future bilateral trade relations;
(b) China's compliance with the letter and spirit of ChAFTA;
(c) the extent and consequences of Australian economic dependence on the Chinese market;
(d) the wider economic, strategic and diplomatic context of Australia's trade relations with China; and
(e) options for the future of ChAFTA.
Question agreed to.
The Australian government has called on the Chinese government to live up to its commitments under the World Trade Organization and ChAFTA, which require China not to discriminate against Australia. The government has repeatedly called for dialogue to resolve current trade issues in the interests of jobs and economic recovery post COVID in both countries and in our broader region. Such requests have been dismissed. The government is currently considering its options and working with industry, including on a possible WTO dispute.
Labor won't be supporting this reference. We note that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is currently undertaking a post-implementation review of ChAFTA, which parliamentarians will take great interest in. Australia's relationship with China is increasingly complex, but we cannot decouple. We must continue to engage; Australian jobs rely on it. This motion clearly reflects interest amongst senators about our bilateral relationship. It's the role of the government to provide leadership and to engage with parliamentarians to explain our foreign policy and how the government is managing our relationships in the national interest. That's why we continue to encourage the government to provide briefings to parliamentarians. Leadership also means working with Australian exporters to diversify export markets instead of overseeing an increasing reliance on a single trading partner.
Mr President, I'll just ask for some clarification. I am the mover of this motion. It is being co-sponsored by Senator Lambie. She's not the mover of the motion. I'd just like some clarity in relation to this rule whereby leave is being denied on the basis that someone is a co-sponsor.
Senator Patrick, technically you are moving a motion when your name is on it. Co-sponsoring is effectively moving a motion. One person stands up and does it in the chamber but the name is on the motion. On that basis it's a matter for the whips as to the practice of this. Everyone knows my views.
The question is that motion No. 875 be agreed to.