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Monday, 26 February 2018
Page: 1838


Ms MARINO (ForrestChief Government Whip) (15:01): My question is to the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment. Will the minister outline the benefits of trade and investment for creating more and better-paying jobs? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches that pose a risk to economic prosperity?

Mr CIOBO (MoncrieffMinister for Trade, Tourism and Investment) (15:01): I thank the member for Forrest for her question. She is another member of the coalition who is focused on creating export opportunities—in particular, for Australia's small and medium-sized enterprises. I note that the member for Forrest has quite a number of tourism based small and medium-sized businesses—in particular, the wine industry—that are using our tourism industry as well to drive export sales. I note that Australia's wine industry has been absolutely booming in terms of exports, thanks in particular to the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, which has seen China become Australia's largest export market for wine.

What all that means is that it's Australians who are benefitting from those increased levels of exports. They translate into real jobs for Australian families. We've seen such strong growth thanks to the free trade agreements that we now have in place with Korea, Japan and China and the fact that we've also now put in place new free trade agreements with Peru and the TPP-11. As well, we're putting the focus on Latin American countries, including negotiations now with the Pacific alliance. That is what this government has been focused on.

I had the pleasure of being with the Prime Minister in the United States, together with representatives from a number of key Australian businesses. They are major Australian businesses that are responsible for employing tens of thousands of people—businesses like Fortescue, Rio, Qantas and Wesfarmers. All of those business leaders made it crystal clear to us in the United States that the key to Australia remaining competitive is their being able to do two things, one of which is to make investment decisions that will drive more investment into their businesses, which, in turn, creates more jobs.

As the Prime Minister said, the simple, inescapable fact is this: Australia must be able to compete to drive investment dollars in this country. If we cannot compete, we will not get those investment dollars. The consequence of not getting those investment dollars will be that there will be fewer Australian jobs in the future. So, when the opposition leader and the Australian Labor Party arrogantly sit there and dismiss the direct comments from business leaders in this country who employ tens of thousands of hardworking Australians, they are basically staring down their noses at ordinary Australians, they're staring down their noses at the CEOs of these businesses that are responsible for apportioning billions of dollars of investment, and they're saying, 'We don't care what you say. We know best.'

The simple fact is that we are seeing a revival of confidence in the United States. That revival of confidence is being driven by lower corporate taxes. That revival of confidence means more jobs for Americans. We want to do the same thing here in Australia by reducing company taxes, driving investment and driving employment.