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Monday, 10 September 2018
Page: 8325

Mr DICK (Oxley) (10:41): It's a bit rich, isn't it, really? You've had the member for Hinkler and the member for Hughes—the leaders of friends of instability—coming into this chamber and lecturing the Labor Party about how great the record of trade and investment is under this government. They are so proud of their record that they can't get people to even speak on their own motion! There are vacancies because no-one wants to get up and defend your record. I can understand it's The Hunger Games out in the corridor today, situation normal for the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison-potential-Dutton government. But honestly, having lectures from those opposite when they can't even get members of their own government to get up and defend their record is appalling.

I want to start by saying that today's motion is just another case of this government grandstanding and boasting about an on-again-off-again trade agreement with, let's face it, a revolving door of trade ministers not to mention a revolving door of prime ministers. When it comes to advancing Australia on the world stage, the first place the government should be looking is in the mirror at themselves, because of the shambles and embarrassment they have put the Australian people through, not only in the past few weeks, but the past five years. The level of hypocrisy that we have just heard from the member for Hughes, coming in here and trumpeting their success, pales by comparison with the muppet show that we've seen in the last few weeks. That's the government's own words—it's not an offensive comment; it's what the Prime Minister actually describes his own government as. We know that if you can't govern yourselves you can't be expected to govern the country, let alone deliver effective and thoughtful trade and investment policies.

But despite their own shortcomings, I want to be clear from the outset, as we have heard from the member for Bass and the member for Fenner in today's debate, that the Labor Party and the Labor movement have a proud record of reform that has boosted trade and investment, created new jobs and increased the incomes of Australians. When we were last in government, as the parliament knows, we signed off on free trade agreements with Chile, ASEAN and New Zealand, giving a significant boost to Australian trade and jobs. We have done this work because, as a trading nation, Australia's future economic success is underpinned by our ability to sell our goods and services overseas. Key to this is making sure we make the most of the rise of Asia. Two in every three dollars that we make from trade comes from Asia, and this is likely to increase in the years ahead.

In particular, Labor looks forward to examining the details of the free trade agreement recently concluded with Indonesia and urges those opposite to conduct independent modelling of the agreement. The previous Labor government launched negotiations with Indonesia in 2012 because we recognised that our trading relationship with Indonesia is massively underdone. Indonesia is the world's fourth-largest country by population and by 2050 it is projected to be the world's fourth-largest economy. Yet it is currently our 13th-largest trading partner. In fact, two-way trade between Indonesia and Australia has gone backwards over the past five years. As a comparison, despite more than 18,000 Australian companies exporting to New Zealand at the moment, only about 2,000 export to Indonesia. If this is a good trade agreement, it could not only increase trade but also potentially bring our two countries closer together.

I am pleased that a future Shorten Labor government will build on this agreement by formalising annual meetings between our treasurers and trade ministers. However, when it comes to the CPTPP that we are debating here today, we know that it is much smaller and many of the contentious sections of the original TPP have been suspended since the US pulled out of negotiations. Labor believes that all trade agreements should be subject to independent economic modelling, as we have heard in today's debate. The coalition has refused to do this. However, the Victorian Labor government has commissioned independent economic modelling of the CPTPP. The independent economic analysis concludes that, while the agreement does not benefit all sectors equally, no sector or business would be worse off as a result. There are potential strategic benefits to this agreement. Simplifying trade rules and building stronger trade ties between the countries in our region will help make us more secure.

As we have heard, the New Zealand government under Prime Minister Ardern has shown this can be done. They have recently negotiated side letters with four countries, removing the application of ISDS clauses in the CPTPP that had been agreed by the previous conservative New Zealand government.

Labor is committed to improving the way that trade agreements are negotiated, by, in addition, conducting independent economic modelling. We are also committed to publically releasing the government's goals at the commencement of negotiations.