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Thursday, 29 November 2012
Page: 10408

Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western AustraliaMinister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (22:57): On behalf of the government, I thank senators for their contributions to this debate and for facilitating consideration of it this evening. I particularly thank Senator Milne for making that possible. I acknowledge her contribution to the debate but also the understanding she has reached with Minister Emerson. As she is aware and as many senators are, the members of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties reviewed the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement and provided some important findings for the government regarding the scrutiny process for free trade agreements.

The government intends to agree to implement the following JSCOT recommendation: that is that prior to commencing negotiations for a new agreement, the government table in parliament a document setting out its priorities and objectives, including intervention analysis of the anticipated costs and benefits of the agreement. Such analysis should be reflected in the national interest analysis accompanying the treaty text. Additionally in the new year, the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness, Dr Emerson, will have good faith negotiations with the Greens about Australia adopting in the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement negotiations a policy that China should reduce to zero the tariffs that currently apply to Australian live thoroughbred breeding horses. The aim is to replicate the treatment that New Zealand obtains in its FTA with China and that this issue be given priority by Australia in upcoming negotiation rounds under the FTA process. Due to the lateness of the hour, I will conclude my remarks there. I thank again the Senate and senators for their support for dealing with this legislation tonight at this late hour so as to ensure passage and implementation early in the new year. With that, I conclude my remarks.

Question agreed to.

Bills read a second time.