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Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Page: 12055


WYATT ROY (LongmanAssistant Minister for Innovation) (17:12): It is a great honour to rise in the chamber to talk about the transformative China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. A point often made by the Prime Minister is that we live in a rapidly changing world. Globalisation is shrinking our communities and our societies, the world is more interconnected than ever before and technology disruption is changing our industries at an incredibly fast rate. But we also live in a world of enormous opportunity, and the Prime Minister always makes this point in the chamber. This is the most exciting time in human history and it is the most exciting time to be an Australian. And, when we look north to our partners in Asia, we see enormous opportunity not just for this generation of Australians but also for the next generation of Australians.

In China, we are seeing over a billion people come into the middle class—over a billion people. For us as a country of 23 million people it is quite hard to understand what that looks like. But, when we look back in 20, 30, 40 or 50 years time, the idea of starting an Australia business with the intention to sell to a marketplace of just 23 million people will seem somewhat archaic and retro. The opportunities the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement will unlock mean that, instead of having access to a market of only 23 million people, we will have access to billions of people, including a billion coming into the middle class.

We have a strong history, a strong foundation, with China and our Asian neighbours when it comes to our traditional strengths as a country. We have an enormous story to tell when it comes to the resources boom in this country and also the agricultural success of this country. I come from a farming family—and I am incredibly proud to say that I come from a farming family. My brothers work in the coalmines. This has been a great strength for our country, but as the world changes, as globalisation takes off, as technology changes this world, it is important that we do not allow fear to define our response to the changing environment that we are in. It is important that we embrace that change, embrace the future and diversify our economy. The transformative treaty that is before the parliament today, the Australia-China Free Trade Agreement, is that opportunity to diversify our economy.

While this agreement offers enormous access for our traditional strengths when it comes to resources and when it comes to our farmers, the untold story so far is what it will do when it comes to the services side of the economy. The services side of our economy currently makes up about 70 per cent of our domestic economy but only 17 per cent of our international exports. So the real opportunity for us as a country and for future generations of Australians is to turn that 17 per cent in exports into a much greater proportion of our economic output. That is where we will see the future jobs that we need and the increasing economic prosperity and the rising living standards that we should hand over to the next generation of Australians.

In this agreement, effectively for the first time ever, the Chinese have decided that our country is a great testbed to open new grounds in a free market way. They have decided that our country should have the right in many ways or the opportunity to establish 100 per cent Australian-owned businesses in health care, education, architecture and legal services—a whole range of services that they have not allowed access in the past. What that will mean is that, where we have these great strengths on the services side of our economy, where we have these innovative Australian businesses here domestically, they will be able to scale and grow these businesses at an enormous rate. They will be able to take these businesses from a situation where they might only be selling to 23 million Australians and turn them into businesses, companies, that sell to billions of people. There are a billion people coming into the middle class in Asia, through the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, through the Japanese economic partnership, through the South Korea Free Trade Agreement and through the Trans-Pacific Partnership. These agreements will unlock the enormous potential that our country has to grow that market access that will be the driver of future prosperity, future jobs growth and rising living standards in this country.

I turn to my own electorate to give a few examples of what this agreement means in terms of job opportunities and increasing prosperity for my local community. This agreement has the potential to create enormous job opportunities and greater prosperity locally and, I would say, even pride for our region. We have some of the best farmers around. I am very biased, of course, with my family being farmers. We have some fantastic farmers. In this agreement, the tariff barriers that are currently stopping trade into this enormous marketplace will be removed. It will allow these enterprising farmers to have access into that Chinese marketplace, particularly the high-end of that market. We have an incredible brand in this country of clean and green that we should capitalise on to its full extent, and the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement will allow our farmers to get that market access ahead of our competitors globally—because we are obviously competing in a global sense. It will allow them to sell their products—their fruit and vegetables and agriculture products—into what is probably one of the biggest markets in the globe.

I will give another example—one that I think is a great traditional strength for our country and something that we do not talk up enough. In my electorate, in Narangba, we have a company that is over 100 years old in Packer Leather. Packer Leather is a manufacturing firm that produces leather products for iconic brands—kangaroo cricket balls, Sherrin footballs and R.M. Williams boots. These are iconic Australian brands. Packer Leather is in many ways bucking the trend. It is an incredible manufacturing story: employing more people by the day, competing globally and exporting into these marketplaces. In the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, the tariffs around kangaroo leather—it is quite a bizarre arrangement that there are tariffs on kangaroo leather going into the Chinese market place; it is about 14 per cent—will be completely removed over time. What that will allow is an iconic Australian business like Packer Leather from Narangba to have access into this rapidly increasing marketplace—a marketplace that is finding individuals with much greater wealth who want to buy these high-end products. This will really drive the prosperity of this local business and give them enormous opportunities into the future.

These are quite practical changes that will have a very positive impact not just on the nation but also on my local community. I think in decades to come when generations of Australians look back, they will be very proud of what we have achieved in the parliament today with the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. I personally am very proud of what the Minister for Trade and Investment, Mr Andrew Rob, has managed to achieve in this agreement. In the short time since we have come to government, he has managed to deliver in the actual practical sense but also through this parliament free trade agreements with some of our largest trading partners. The Japanese-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement is, again, a completely transformative free trade agreement. It gives us access into the Japanese marketplace that effectively no other Western country on earth has. There is this fantastic agreement with China. There is also a very significant agreement with South Korea. Of course, in recent days, we have had what I think will really transform global trade in the world—the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This is a very exciting time. These agreements represent an opportunity for us to grasp the potential that our country has to embrace the future and the change that we need. It is a very exciting development not just for this generation but for generations of Australians to come.