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Monday, 3 June 2013
Page: 4951


Dr EMERSON (RankinMinister for Trade and Competitiveness, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Asian Century Policy) (16:31): I will seek to complete my answers to the previous set of questions and then move on to the current set. I have been asked about the Indonesia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement and the impact of the suspension of live cattle exports to Indonesia on our broader relations with Indonesia. The fact is that Australia enjoys a very good relationship with Indonesia at all levels, especially between the President and the Prime Minister and ministers and their counterparts. I repeat that I see trade minister Gita Wirjawan very often. In fact, I discussed with him in Surabaya at the APEC trade ministers meeting the issue of beef exports, where he indicated that he was seeking to expand beef imports into Indonesia.

In terms of potential damage to the relationship with Indonesia, there can be no greater damage than seeking to verbal ministers in the Indonesian government and, indeed, the Indonesian ambassador—

Ms Julie Bishop: My point of order is that in the other chamber I made quite clear in a personal explanation that the media had got that headline wrong and, in fact, the media have withdrawn it. So the minister should not continue to verbal me in this place, because he is on notice—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr S Georganas ): The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will resume her seat. The Minister for Trade has the call.

Dr EMERSON: In fact, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has sought to create an impression that there was an understanding between the coalition and the Indonesian government to tow back boats. That is completely false. That has been denied by the Indonesian foreign minister, Marty Natalegawa, and it has been denied by—

Ms Julie Bishop interjecting

Dr EMERSON: I said that there was an understanding—and you know that. Of course, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has form, because she said that she had had only one phone conversation with Ralph Blewitt and in fact she had two. So she has form in these matters.

Ms Julie Bishop: Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The point of order has to be relevance to this set of questions on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He is talking about the AWU slush fund.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! There is no point of order. The Minister for Trade has the call. I remind the Minister for Trade that there was a set of questions. It is entirely up to the minister how he answers but keep it relevant.

Dr EMERSON: Absolutely. Directly relevant to the question about our relations with Indonesia is the behaviour of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in seeking to create an impression that there was an understanding between the Indonesian government and the coalition about towing back boats. There is no such understanding and there was no such understanding. That has been completely denied at all relevant levels of the Indonesian government.

In relation to Korea, I think the Deputy Leader of the Opposition well knows that the two remaining issues there are in relation to the schedule for reducing the import tariff on beef and, secondly, investor state dispute settlement provisions. The Australian government does not agree with the insertion of investor-state dispute settlement procedures. I know from the public record that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said that the opposition does agree, on a case-by-case basis. That means that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, if the coalition ever form government, would be quite willing to constrain the capacity of the Australian government to regulate, for example, coal-seam methane projects on farms in Australia.

Ms Julie Bishop interjecting

Dr EMERSON: So she may like to check with Senator Barnaby Joyce and other National party members whether they in fact agree with being constrained in environmental regulation and health regulation, such as the plain packaging of cigarettes. The coalition said they supported the government's plain packaging measures, but they would implement investor-state dispute settlement provisions that will hobble the Australian government's attempts—

Ms Julie Bishop interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr S Georganas ): Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will cease interjecting.

Dr EMERSON: and measures to implement the plain packaging of cigarettes. So let the Australian public decide whether it agrees with investor-state dispute settlement provisions, which the coalition support, or whether it does not, which is the position of the Labor government. In respect of the impact on Mr Farley's operations, I think that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would know Mr Farley very well and that she could have that conversation with him.

In relation to Japan, I met their agriculture minister at the OECD just a couple of days ago. We are still talking about a couple of the critical agricultural products. We do need a commercially meaningful offer in relation to high-quality beef—so-called chilled beef, alternatively known as grain fed beef—and the government of Japan is considering that request. (Time expired)