Wednesday, 16 June 2021
Questions without Notice
Trade with the United Kingdom
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, Senator Ruston. Will the minister please outline how the new free trade agreement between Australia and the United Kingdom will provide our primary producers with new opportunities to export the world's best food, fibre and rice overseas?
I thank Senator Davey for her question, because, like you, Senator Davey, I know that Australian farmers will be the big winners from the free trade agreement that was negotiated between our Prime Minister and Prime Minister Johnson overnight. The deal will open up such an amazing new set of avenues for our farmers and the broader agricultural sector, because the agriculture sector has always been terribly important for the Australian economy and never more so than it is at the moment as we recover from the COVID pandemic.
This free trade agreement is a very comprehensive agreement. It's high quality and it's mutually beneficial for both of our countries, but, most particularly, for our agricultural sector. It will allow 99 per cent of Australian goods entering the UK to be duty-free, and that includes the immediate elimination of tariffs on wine, which means a lot to the area that I come from, and on rice, which means a lot to the area that you come from, Senator Davey. Beef tariffs will be eliminated over 10 years. Right now we get immediate access to 35,000 tonnes of beef, and that quota will rise to 110,000 tonnes. Sheepmeat tariffs will be eliminated after 10 years as well, which means immediate access to 25,000 tonnes, and that will rise to 75,000 tonnes. Sugar tariffs will be eliminated over eight years and dairy tariffs over five years.
This agreement absolutely means that our farmers now have another new and exciting market in which they can sell their amazing, high-quality Australian produce. Not only that, but they will be able to access markets that are actually paying really good prices and understand what the quality of Australian produce is all about. So it has never been more important for Australian farmers to have a diversity of markets which they can access. This new trade agreement is a win for us and it is a win for our country, but it is most particularly a win for our rural economies.
This year, farmgate prices and farmgate production are set to reach an all-time high of $66.3 billion. Of that, $47 billion will be generated because of exporting of our fantastic primary produce. We know that we grow amazing food, but 80 million people, not just here in Australia but around the world, are fed by Australian producers, 1.6 million people in Australia are employed by the agricultural sector through its supply chain and more than 334,000 Australians are employed directly in our agricultural sector. This is fantastic news for the whole of Australia but most particularly for the regional areas that support our agricultural sector. We know our primary producers are absolutely first-class. They're innovative, they're forward thinking and they're always prepared to have a go. This free trade agreement will help them be able to help themselves to support Australia.
We, as a government, the Morrison-McCormack government, absolutely understand the importance of not just sustaining our agricultural sector but building it. It is such an important part of the Australian economy. We have invested nearly $100 million in the current 2021-22 budget to make sure we're providing the agricultural sector with the supports and tools so it can take advantage of the opportunities that are presented by these new free trade agreements, such as the one that has been struck in the last 24 hours.
We want to transform the way that we support our agricultural sector, particularly around export services and support for exporters. The Busting Congestion for Agricultural Exporters package continues to modernise and streamline our systems. The package will also generate more than $200 million in other benefits for the agricultural sector by 2030. As part of the agribusiness expansion initiative, we are supporting 2,000 agrifood exporters through the Austrade-led Excelerate program. (Time expired)