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Monday, 3 June 2013
Page: 4950


Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (16:26): In relation to the free trade agreement negotiations with South Korea, when did the last round of negotiations take place? Are there any remaining sticking points or hurdles in the negotiations and, if so, what are they? Is the minister aware of comments by Mr David Farley, Managing Director of the Australian Agricultural Company, that Australia's failure to conclude a free trade agreement with Korea is costing the country $3 million per week? Is this figure correct? If not, what is the correct figure?

What has the impact of the Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement been on Australian exports to Korea? Specifically, how much beef does Australia currently export to Korea? Has the amount of beef exported to Korea declined since the introduction of the Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement, and how much has Australia lost in dollar terms? What is the current tariff rate for Australian beef exports to Korea, and how does this compare to the tariff imposed on US exports? What is the tariff rate for other agricultural products? What is the estimated benefit of a free trade agreement with South Korea for the Australian economy, and what are the estimated benefits for Australia's agricultural sector from a free trade agreement with Korea?

In relation to the Japan free trade agreement, what is the current status of the free trade negotiations with Japan? When did the last round of negotiations take place? What are the remaining hurdles or sticking points in the negotiations? What are the estimated benefits for Australia's agricultural sector from a free trade agreement with Japan? Has the minister's recent comment blaming Japan's central bank for driving down the value of the yen had any impact in Japan, and is the minister aware of any coverage in the Japanese media of his comments? Does the minister agree that his comments were unhelpful, given the circumstances surrounding current negotiations that are underway?

In relation to the China free trade agreement—the minister made reference to it—could he state what the current status of the free trade agreement negotiations with China is? When did the last round of negotiations take place, and did the Minister for Trade take part in those negotiations? When does the minister expect negotiations to conclude? If there are remaining sticking points or hurdles to concluding an agreement, what are they? Is the minister aware that New Zealand's goods exports to China have trebled since the conclusion of their free trade agreement in 2008? Is the minister also aware that 90 per cent of New Zealand's goods exports now enter China duty free? What is the current tariff rate for Australian agricultural exports to China, and how does this compare to New Zealand exports? What has been the impact of the China-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement on Australian exports to China in both volume and dollar terms?

According to the portfolio budget statement, the revised budget figures for both passports and notary acts have been lowered due to the closure of the Atlanta office. I would like to ask some questions about the Atlanta office that was closed in August 2012. How much consular work was conducted by the Atlanta office? How many Australian businesses operating in the United States were engaged with the Atlanta office? Has the government received any complaints from Australian businesses regarding the closure of the Atlanta office and, if so, how many? Has the workload for other posts increased since the closure of the Atlanta office?

I have another question on trade. In 2009, as the minister would be aware, the Australia government launched Brand Australia and contributed $20 million over four years, yet in the 2013-14 budget the government is terminating the program. Does the minister consider the Brand Australia trial to have been a success? If so, why is it now being terminated? If it was not a success, what were the specific problems? What is the implication for associated projects, including Australia Unlimited and Future Unlimited? How much money was spent promoting Brand Australia at the London Olympics and, specifically, what was the money spent on? When was the decision made to terminate Brand Australia? Can the minister advise whether this decision to terminate Brand Australia was made before or after the London Olympics?

Finally, on expenditure on diplomatic appointments: what head of mission positions will be appointed between now and the September election? What are those positions? Have people already been selected to fill all of the positions? Have the names of any current or former Labor Party politicians been raised in regard to these positions and will any of them be appointed to these head of mission positions?