Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 5 December 2013
Page: 988

Trade: South Korea


Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:54): My question is to Senator Cormann, the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Investment. I refer the minister to the Prime Minister's statement in the other place today, at two o'clock, relating to a free trade agreement with the Republic of Korea. Does the minister agree it is important for Australians to understand the full implications of proposed trade agreements, and so does the government commit to releasing a copy of the proposed agreement very soon, and as soon as possible?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance) (14:54): Indeed the Prime Minister has been able to announce that Australia has been able to reach agreement with South Korea on a free trade agreement, which is very good news for Australia indeed. It really will help strengthen our economy moving forward. It will lead to stronger exports, in particular agricultural exports but also manufacturing exports, into Korea. Of course, what I can say, in response to the shadow minister's specific question, is that what this government will follow in terms of ensuring that there is appropriate public scrutiny as we go through the domestic approval processes in Australia—the same as South Korea will do in South Korea—will be the usual process.


Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:55): Mr President, I have a supplementary question. When will the government release a copy of the proposed agreement, and can the minister also confirm that the agreement with Korea includes an investor-state dispute settlement clause?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance) (14:55): I say again we will go through the usual processes, including the process through the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, which is of course the way it always works. When Minister Robb comes back from overseas, he will be able to expand further on relevant details.


Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:56): Mr President, I have a further supplementary question. Does any element of the proposed agreement confer greater legal rights on foreign businesses than those available to domestic businesses and does any element of the proposed agreement constrain the ability of the government to make laws on social, environmental and economic matters?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance) (14:56): Again I say what I said in my original answer. Clearly, Senator Wong did not listen very carefully to what I said. This agreement which was reached between Australia and South Korea is very good news in particular for farmers across Australia. It is very good news for manufacturers across Australia. It is very good news for the export industry across Australia as a whole. Of course, as always happens with these sorts of trade agreements, they do go through a proper process of scrutiny including parliamentary scrutiny before they come into effect—and that will happen on this occasion. Minister Robb will, when he comes back from overseas, expand on these things as appropriate.