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Monday, 26 February 2018
Page: 1955


Mr RICK WILSON (O'Connor) (13:13): I rise to add my voice to those congratulating the government on the completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This is a historic achievement for our nation. It reinforces this government's commitment to a strong and diverse economy. Unlike the pessimists on the other side of this chamber, we refused to let this opportunity die in the water when the United States withdrew its support.

I stand here today acutely aware of what this agreement means for Australian families. I come from Western Australia, where the export sector is a powerhouse of the economy. My brother and I ran a small business in Katanning for years. We developed our family farm into a successful enterprise, but we endured tough times along the way. Australian businesses look to the government for leadership. It's our responsibility to create a climate that allows those businesses to thrive. For export giants like Western Australia, we need to help our industries access new markets and expand. That's how we create more jobs, strengthen the economy and deliver higher wages to Australians. One of the most resounding endorsements of the TPP comes from the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Their modelling indicates that this agreement will boost Australia's national income by 0.5 per cent and our exports by four per cent. That's more than $15 billion in additional income and more than $30 billion in additional exports.

My electorate of O'Connor is one of the most economically diverse regions in the country. It's also an electorate renowned for its production. A very significant proportion of WA's commodity exports originate in O'Connor. The key to job and wage growth for many of my constituents is helping those industries become more competitive in overseas markets. That's exactly what the TPP does for Australian businesses. Within the free-trade zone, 98 per cent of tariffs will disappear under this agreement.

In my electorate the most significant changes are the removal of all tariffs on sheepmeat, wool, seafood, horticulture and wine; new reductions in Japan's tariff on beef—Australian beef exports hit $2 billion in the last financial year—and new access for dairy products in Japan, Canada and Mexico; and tariff reductions for cereals and grains into Japan. These are huge benefits for Australian farmers in this agreement. We know it, and the industry knows it. Tony Mahar, Chief Executive of the National Farmers' Federation, said this week:

The CPTPP is a regional free trade agreement of unprecedented scope and ambition. It has great potential to drive job-creating growth across the Australian economy.

He said:

Ultimately, this will make Australian food and fibre products more competitive in the global market.

As the federal MP representing the Western Australian Goldfields, I'm also proud to say that we're minimising regulatory risks for our service exporters. In Kalgoorlie-Boulder, the goldmining capital of Western Australia, some of the local businesses are world leaders in mining technology and equipment. Under the TPP, energy sector reforms in Mexico and Vietnam will help those Kalgoorlie businesses be more competitive in those markets.

The government has taken a lead role in developing the TPP. We knew it would benefit Australians by boosting national income and creating jobs. We've seen the results of our other free trade agreements, particularly with China. Over a nine-month period last year, trade growth was astounding when compared to data for the years before the ChAFTA came into force. Bottled wine exports grew 129 per cent to $498 million. Abalone exports rose 385 per cent to $39.8 million, and some major producers from Esperance, in my electorate, are reaping these benefits. Hay and chaff exports rose by 64 per cent, and Chinese imports of unwrought nickel almost tripled to $240 million, which is fantastic news for the nickel miners in the Goldfields.

There's no doubt that free trade makes our economy stronger, and that's why this government is so committed to being a world leader in this space. Last year I attended a free-trade seminar in Albany, in my electorate. One of the great success stories from my electorate comes from Fletcher International Exports. Fletcher's are a family owned exporter of lamb and sheepmeat, and they have processing facilities based in Albany. Before ChAFTA, tariffs on sheepmeat in China were 15 per cent. Now they are at 8.3 per cent and reducing to zero. Greg Cross, Fletcher's WA general manager, said: 'The FTAs have had a massive impact on our company. We need to be looking at more opportunities. Having these FTAs, and more, with these countries gives us that opportunity to expand.'

This government is backing Australian companies like Fletcher's. We're helping them become leaders on the world stage. I want to see the businesses in my electorate rewarded for their courage and investment. I've got no doubt that the TPP is going to make our economy stronger and Australian businesses more competitive. I want to thank the Prime Minister and the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Steve Ciobo, for making this agreement happen and for the benefits that will flow to my constituents. Now's the time for this parliament to embrace the agreement and work with us to get the best result for Australian businesses.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Vamvakinou ): There being no further speakers, the debate is adjourned, and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.

Sitting suspended from 13:18 to 16:00