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Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Page: 8772


Ms RISHWORTH (Kingston) (18:05): I am very pleased to speak on this important Customs Amendment (Anti-dumping Improvements) Bill (No. 3) today. This is the fourth tranche of amendments implementing the package we put together in 2011 to address some of the issues of dumping in Australia. It was inaction by the previous coalition government that led to many of the problems we are experiencing today. It took the election of a Labor government to look at the antidumping regime and make improvements so that we can ensure that there is fairness for both imported and locally-produced goods in our economy.

Having an open trading system has been an important part of Australia's economic growth. Indeed, opening opportunities to trade has allowed many businesses to flourished by improving their exports. It has been a bipartisan way of moving forward.

I worry that the Nationals are growing more influential in the coalition. I congratulate them for it, but I worry that the bipartisan commitment to an open economy is fast dissipating and that it will be only the Labor Party that is committed to growth and to ensuring that we have an open economy that benefits our exports. Indeed the Liberal Party may well be controlled by the National Party. Won't that be disappointing for so many former Liberal Party members? You cannot imagine that Peter Costello would be celebrating the change to a closed economy that the National Party would take us to. They are making moves towards that. I am sure they can convince some people in their party room, although it might take a little while. Certainly I am worried, as many people should be worried, that the National Party will close down our economy. An open economy has served this country very well and free trade has ensured that we have gained access to many markets around the world, allowing many people, including many wine producers in my electorate, to be able to export their wine. I note that it has been difficult recently because of the high Australian dollar. Many producers in my electorate in these difficult circumstances have still been able to continue to use those markets across the world to sell their product and enlarge their business. It has been very important.

This trade needs to be fair as well. Our antidumping system improvements are all about ensuring that companies are able to get some redress if they feel there have been problems with goods being dumped and to get that redress more quickly. These are very important pieces of legislation that are before the House. The bill aligns the subsidy provisions with the World Trade Organisa­tion's Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures. It also adds stronger provisions to address non-cooperation and a range of other, more minor, amendments that add to the work we have already done.

It took the election of a Labor government for this to be looked at seriously. It took the election of a Labor government for a package to be put together and for it to be thought through clearly and properly. This group of measures will put us in good stead. The minister has said that more can be done. I am pleased, despite the previous speaker's ridicule, with John Brumby and his role in looking at the feasibility of a Commonwealth antidumping agency. I commend the minister on this announcement. I think it is a good idea to look at this and to ensure that we see what else can be done in this area, who is best to do it and how we can go forward. This needs to be done in a considered way. For its antidumping policy the coalition has merely brought forward a thought bubble that could actually contradict World Trade Organisation rules. Unlike the previous speaker, I do not have a lot of confidence in the coalition's policy. I have a lot more confidence in John Brumby, who has looked at this in a serious and focused way.

I welcome this. It demonstrates our commitment to a proper fair-trading system. We are into free trade, but we want it to be fair. This package of measures, including the announcement made by the minister on 4 July, continues our commitment. I commend the bills to the House.