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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9122


Mr TEHAN (Wannon) (15:36): I rise to support remarks I made in this chamber last week as well as to comment on remarks made by the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness at the end of the debate last week, where he was critical of comments that had been made about the relationship with Indonesia. In particular, he referred to a quote in the Australian Financial Reviewand accused us on this side of misrepresenting and misleading.

Let us place the Financial Review article to one side because what we did not hear from the trade minister and what I would like to hear him comment on—maybe the parliamentary secretary could comment—is the evidence given by Indonesia when the trade subcommittee examined this bill. I quote:

The implementation of the Bill is also likely to undermine the development of trade between Indonesia and Australia based on our respective mutual interests. In this respect, reference is made to the recent efforts of the Government of Indonesia to accommodate and resolve the problem faced by Australia during the self-imposed ban on beef exports to Indonesia.

That is what needs to be addressed by the other side. I would ask the parliamentary secretary to give us his view on what Indonesia is saying in this quote and, if the trade minister is happy to grace us with his presence again, I would like to hear his view of what this means, remembering that Indonesia is our most important market for beef and for wheat. Yet here they are saying in their submission that:

The implementation of the Bill is also likely to undermine the development of trade between Indonesia and Australia based on our respective mutual interests.

I would ask the government to give heed to that quote, to think about it, because we have already seen, through the absolute debacle which occurred with live exports to Indonesia, what harm that did to our trading relationship with Indonesia. Yet here again we see the government, through its ineptitude, through its incompetence, ready to do exactly the same thing again.

The consultation around this bill has been nothing short of a disgrace. They have not taken into account the interests of our near neighbours—how sensitive they are about these measures, how sensitive they are about other countries telling them what they should do, how they should govern their own internal affairs. It is time the government woke up and thought about doing things a better way. If they do not, they are going to cause grave damage to this relationship at a time when there are particular sensitivities.

We have already seen that there is a key to helping to resolve the asylum seeker issue here in this country—by making sure we have strong cooperation with Indonesia and Malaysia in particular. Yet the way the government has mishandled this bill will mean that those countries will look at us and say, 'Why should we cooperate with this country when they are bringing into this place unilateral measures like this?' where we are telling them how to suck eggs.

I call on the government to think again, to step back from this, to go back to those countries and say, 'Surely there is a better way to do this. Surely we can cooperate with you, rather than us telling you how you should do it,' imposing our views on them, telling them, 'You should do it our way.' How would we like it in reverse? This is the danger of this bill because the precedent we are setting will open it up for other countries to say to us in exactly the same way, 'This is how we want you doing things.' The government should think again.