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Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Page: 12063


Dr GILLESPIE (Lyne) (17:43): I rise in support of this legislation. The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement is a landmark free trade agreement. In decades to come people will look back on this in a similar fashion to how they look back on the original post-war trade agreement with China that a previous leader of the National Party, Black Jack McEwen, was at the forefront of.

It is with great honour that I stand here as the member for Lyne. I want to bring to the attention of the House that this is a very successful conclusion by our current Minister for Trade and Investment. He has done a fantastic job getting the trifecta of trade agreements up. The negotiations for this China-Australia Free Trade Agreement were started over 10 years ago by my forerunner in the seat of Lyne, former Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile. I know he, amongst many other Australians who are producers and exporters, will be very pleased when this bill has passed the House and is on its way to the Senate.

The potential of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement is enormous for people in my electorate who are producers of milk, dairy, beef—but dairy and beef, in particular—and fisheries. We have premium wine producers in the Hastings and in the Gloucester region and in the south of the electorate as well. There are many people who can benefit from this. Even the announcement of the trade agreement and the original signing of intent to ratify and formalise this agreement has led to hundreds and thousands more cases of wine leaving the Hastings valley on the mid-north coast in the north of the Lyne electorate and heading to China. Imagine the effect when it is formally introduced and in action. The potential is huge.

We do have great products in the Lyne electorate. There is the potential for seafood exports and for more dairy exports. To the north of us, Norco is producing milk now that is going all the way to China into the fresh milk market. The Manning valley, home to over 52 dairy producers who produce over a third of the state's milk, will be able to produce even more if it gets into this export market. In Wingham we have Wingham Beef Exports. In Wauchope we have Hokubee Australia, which is a beef exporter. With this free trade agreement, the potential for all those producers to export into China is huge. It is to be commended.

We also have service industries. We have people in the defence space in our electorate. People in that space make high-tech gear which we can export into China. We have legal services. We have architectural services. There are many services, even in a regional electorate like mine, that with the ubiquity of online trading have the ability to become exporters into China.

There is another benefit for Australia. There are many envious nations around the world that look in wonder at our achievement of a free trade agreement with China. They will see us as a potential production venue to export their goods into China, whether it is in the pharmaceutical space or in complex manufacturing. There are many who have spoken to me and hope to expand their existing Australian production basis to cater for the Chinese market, whether it is vitamins or pharmaceuticals. They are the two obvious ones that could be ramped up exponentially to produce goods for China.

There are so many spin-offs for the Australian economy in this. It means all these primary producers have another market to deliver their goods to. In the beef industry, traditionally, your opportunities ended with selling to an abattoir. But if the abattoirs are exporters competing with the Australian market abattoirs, it will lead to higher farm gate prices. You have only got to see what has happened in the beef industry over the last 18 months to two years. We have had record prices at the Wingham abattoirs, and sales at Kempsey, Taree, Gloucester and across all of south-eastern Australia are really encouraging.

It is the first time in 20 years that many beef producers are actually making serious profits. They now have a tax problem. To be making enough profit to have to pay tax is a great problem to have. Many of them have just been living on a zero-sum game for decades, producing and making marginal profits. Even big producers with really big outfits, if they were not getting good prices, then they had a big turnover and they had marginal profits and they had increased land values. But now it is such a relief to know that you can make a profit out of breeding animals and producing really high-quality beef that is a prime product.

For my wine producers, seafood producers and service providers there are all sorts of opportunities, and between the internet and these free trade agreements the sky is the limit for Australia. I am really looking forward to this bill passing the House, going to the Senate and going through the ratification process because it will open doors for so many businesses in my electorate, let alone across the whole country. I commend the bill to the House.