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Thursday, 4 February 2016
Page: 580

Bass Electorate: Trade

Mr NIKOLIC ( Bass ) ( 14:54 ): My question is to the Prime Minister. During the Prime Minister's recent visit to Launceston we discussed the importance of free trade agreements and the government's $203 million investment in freight equalisation schemes and $60 million investment in Tranche Two irrigation schemes. In advance of the next Joint Commonwealth and Tasmanian Economic Council, can you update Tasmanians on the progress of these investments and Tasmania's trade performance?

Mr TURNBULL ( Wentworth Prime Minister ) ( 14:55 ): The honourable member demonstrates that there has never been a more exciting time to be a Tasmanian. I thank him for his question and I note that there are few more enthusiastic advocates of Tasmania than our three Tasmanian MPs on our side of the House. I was struck by their enthusiasm when I visited the state last October, the enthusiasm of Tasmanians right across the country, their confidence in the economy and their enthusiasm for the opportunities that the big three trade agreements are opening up, thanks to the hard work of the minister for trade.

The honourable member and I inspected some dredging work being done in the Tamar River and we heard about the huge benefits being delivered to the local seafood industry. We met a local fisherman, Karl Krause, who told us that crayfish prices, thanks to the demand from China, had doubled, from $60 to $120 per kilo. We heard how important shipping reform is for Tasmania and we confirmed we remain committed to the reforms that will stimulate coastal shipping and reduce the cost of transportation to the island state.

Tasmanians right across the board are describing their state as 'China's delicatessen', and the latest ABS international trade figures demonstrate that this confidence is well founded. The ABS estimates that the nominal value of overseas goods exports from Tasmania increased to $2.74 billion in 2015, up nearly five per cent. The value of exports to mainland China from Tasmania increased by over 22 per cent from 2014-15, and 25½ per cent of Tasmania's goods exports go to China.

This is the reality on the ground of the achievements of this government—the free trade agreement with China delivering exports, jobs and growth in Tasmania. In fact, the member highlighted to me that seafood exports alone grew 78.6 per cent compared to the previous year; meat exports by 48.7 per cent; fruit and vegetable exports by 11 per cent; and wood and woodchips by 102.6 per cent—

And it is not just China: from Tasmania to the United States, goods exports grew by over 75 per cent on the previous year to around $212 million, mainly off the back of meat and metals, and goods exports to Taiwan increased by over 26 per cent to around $338 million. A competent, effective, innovative enterprising trade policy, a strong Liberal government and a federal government committed to Tasmania is delivering the results on the ground for all Tasmanians.