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Thursday, 5 December 2013
Page: 1788


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:02): We welcome the Prime Minister's announcement. Australia and the Republic of Korea are strong friends in both war and peace. We are partners in economic, political and strategic matters, and share common values and interests. A free trade agreement with the Republic of Korea presents significant opportunities for Australia. It was former Prime Minister Rudd and Korean President Lee Myung-bak who agreed to launch bilateral FTA negotiations.

The opposition recognises that reducing barriers to trade can boost our economic growth, create more competitive industries and provide consumers with access to a wider range of goods and services at lower prices. The pursuit of these objectives drives Labor's support for a more open global trading system. Labor believes the Asian century is at the centre of our national debate and has opposed protectionist responses to the global financial crisis both at home and abroad.

Labor also successfully negotiated the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement and FTAs with Malaysia and Chile. Labor had an ambitious agenda for trade in office and we will maintain our commitment in opposition. However, we respectfully request that senior government officials provide a briefing to the opposition at the earliest possible time and that the government release details of the agreement that the Prime Minister has announced as soon as possible so it can be reviewed and assessed. We wish to appreciate its impact on our budget and our economy. Not least of all, we want to ensure that Australian jobs are supported and maintained, and that Australian opportunities are available in the future to ensure that our national interest is advanced.