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Monday, 3 March 2014
Page: 1328

Trade


Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan) (14:54): My question is to the Minister for Trade and Investment. Will the minister please update the House on the work the government is doing to strengthen our trade, business and investment ties with our largest trading partner? Minister, what new opportunities does the Chinese economy offer Australian businesses?


Mr ROBB (GoldsteinMinister for Trade and Investment) (14:54): I would like to thank the member for Ryan. This is a most appropriate question from someone who set up Conventions Queensland over 25 years ago and, from a room in the front of her house, established one of Queensland's leading management and events tourism businesses.

Trade and investment are two crucial factors in seeking to meet the challenge of restoring sustainable growth and sustainable jobs. China, as our biggest training partner, is a big part of that challenge. There is great scope to widen and to deepen our relationship because China's economy is changing. China is moving from a focus on exports—

Mr Albanese interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Grayndler.

Mr ROBB: and shifting to a focus on domestic spending by way of the exploding middle class.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: There will be silence on my left.

Mr ROBB: Retail sales in China last year increased by 13 per cent, the opposite of what we saw in Australia under those on the other side. This will open up new opportunities for Australia across many areas in line with our strengths. That is why today the Prime Minister announced that, from 8 to 11 April this year, we will take a very big business group, which I will lead in association with Australia Week in China, involving the Prime Minister as part of his broader North Asian involvement. This trip will have industry-themed events across four major cities. It will involve hundreds of business people from Australia—350 have already nominated—and it will reflect our nation's strengths: things such as agribusiness, mining, health, tourism, food, urban planning and architecture.

Mr Champion interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Wakefield.

Mr ROBB: It builds on our efforts to conclude a free trade agreement, which has been under negotiation since 2005 and is yet to be completed.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: There will be silence on my left.

Mr ROBB: It is on the back of an agreement with Korea, which those on the other side sought to negotiate for years without success. And we are working hard to complete the Japanese free trade agreement. All of these activities are an important part of giving us the opportunity for trade and investment, which will help us fix the mess that those on the other side created for this country. It is a critical issue, alongside the carbon and mining taxes. It is a very clear message for Australians.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: To describe the behaviour that is going on on the left of the chamber is simply to understate it. There will be some order on that side and we will then hear from the member for Ballarat.