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Thursday, 12 February 2015
Page: 628

Trade with China


Senator BACK (Western Australia) (14:04): My question is to the Minister for Human Services, representing the Minister for Trade and Investment. Will the minister update the Senate on how the recent China-Australia free trade agreement has been received by Australian industry?


Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Human Services) (14:04): I thank Senator Back for his question and for his particular interest in this important area of Australian trade and investment. The landmark China-Australia free trade agreement, or ChAFTA, will unlock substantial new benefits and new jobs for Australians for years to come. In fact, industry has been universal in their praise of the agreement. The Business Council of Australia said:

This historic agreement is a transformative moment for the Australian economy. It puts many of our most important sectors on a more competitive footing internationally and gives Australian companies enormous scope to boost trade and create jobs.

The Australian industry Group said:

The agreement announced will provide Australian business with more export and investment opportunities through opening up access to the large Chinese market whilst seeking to ensure that appropriate safeguards have been included for local industry.

The Winemakers Federation praised the much awaited free-trade agreement with China, saying it 'seals this year's trade trifecta and has the potential to add tens of millions of dollars to the Australian wine industry's export earnings'. All of those levels of support were universal in their praise for the trade agreement.

What ChAFTA will do is add billions of dollars to the economy, create jobs and drive higher living standards for Australians. In fact, it will make sure that Australian businesses have unprecedented access to the world's second largest economy. It greatly enhances our competitiveness in key areas like agriculture, resources and energy, manufacturing, exports, services and investment. Frankly, given the achievement of the trade trifecta by this government in the short period we have been here, and the absolute lack of achievement on the other side in six years of government, it is a very significant achievement indeed.

Senator Wong: Mr President, the China-Australia free trade agreement has not been made public, and I would ask that the minister table it if she is so interested in spruiking it.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, there is no point of order.




Senator BACK (Western Australia) (14:07): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I ask the minister if she will inform the Senate how the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement will open up new opportunities for Australian exporters.


Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Human Services) (14:07): I thank Senator Back for his supplementary question. On the full implementation of the ChAFTA, 95 per cent of Australian goods exports to China will be tariff free. Significantly, tariffs will be abolished for Australia's $13 billion dairy industry. Australia's beef and sheep farmers will also gain from the abolition of tariffs ranging from 12 to 25 per cent. Tariffs will also be eliminated on a wide range of Australian manufactured goods, including pharmaceutical products and car engines. In this achievement, the Australian government has secured the best ever market access provided to a foreign country by China on services, with enormous scope to build on an export market that is already worth $7 billion. This means more jobs and it means higher living standards for Australians as well.


Senator BACK (Western Australia) (14:08): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I ask if the minister could advise the Senate how the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement demonstrates that Australia is open for business?

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my left!



Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Human Services) (14:09): That is the problem, isn't it? We have achieved in 12 months what those opposite could not achieve in six years. In fact, negotiations with this free-trade agreement started under the Howard government and were concluded by this government.

Senator Cameron: Mr President, on a point of order: the minister is misleading the Senate, because no-one has seen this agreement. I bet the minister has not seen the agreement either.

The PRESIDENT: That is a debating point. There is no point of order.

Senator PAYNE: As I was saying, and I am very pleased to reiterate this, we have achieved in 12 months what those opposite could not achieve in six years. We are building on trade deals already concluded with Korea and Japan. The ChAFTA forms part of this very powerful trifecta of agreements with Australia's three largest export markets, which account for more than 61 per cent of our exports of goods. This trade trifecta is absolute proof that we are open for business. It means more jobs and higher living standards for Australians. That is something that those opposite could not achieve.