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Thursday, 12 February 2015
Page: 651

Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Human Services) (15:36): I seek leave to make a short statement to the Senate.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Is leave granted?

Senator Wong: Mr Deputy President, I just want to clarify with you whether, if I grant leave, I will have the capacity without seeking leave pursuant to the order to—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I understand that, even though she has not yet told me in detail, Senator Payne is going to make a statement to the Senate. You will be able to take note of that statement without leave. Senator Payne, you do not need leave.

Senator PAYNE: I rise to make a short statement in relation to the order of the Senate concerning the status of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Concluding an ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is one of the Australian government's top trade priorities. As a region-wide free trade agreement, the TPP is an opportunity to achieve new, commercially-meaningful market access for Australian goods and services exports, to strengthen investment and to further integrate the Australian economy into the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement will be unprecedented in its scale and level of ambition. There are 12 countries that are negotiating the TPP: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. They represent almost 40 per cent of the global economy, or around US$28 trillion. The TPP countries accounted for a third of Australia's total trade in 2012-13.

The negotiations on the TPP are now at an advanced stage. TPP leaders met on 10 November 2014 on the margins of APEC. They welcomed the significant progress made in recent months and instructed ministers and negotiators to make concluding the TPP a top priority. TPP negotiators again met in New York from 25 January to 1 February 2015 and made important progress on a range of issues, including the rules on trade in goods, intellectual property and state-owned enterprises. The TPP parties are working towards the goal of finalising the negotiations in the first quarter of 2015. This is an achievable goal if the parties can finalise market access negotiations and make the necessary decisions to resolve difficult outstanding issues on the trade rules. The next meeting of ministers and officials from TPP countries is scheduled to take place in mid-March 2015.

Australia is working hard to conclude negotiations, but will not sacrifice a comprehensive, ambitious TPP outcome in order just to obtain a quick deal. Australia's negotiating positions in the TPP have been, and continue to be, guided by consultations with stakeholders, including peak bodies, businesses and interested individuals. The Australian government commenced public domestic consultations in late 2008 and will continue to take every available opportunity to consult with stakeholders.

In accordance with the government's treaty-making process, once the TPP text is agreed by the negotiating parties it will be tabled in parliament for 20 joint sitting days to facilitate public consultations and scrutiny by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties. This will be an opportunity for public and parliamentary discussion of the TPP agreement prior to binding treaty action being taken.