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Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Page: 12088

Ms PRICE (Durack) (19:39): May I take this opportunity to thank the opposition for finally coming to their senses and to the table, and showing bipartisan support for the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. For a minute there I thought that Andrew Robb had no role whatsoever as trade minister in the negotiation of the ChAFTA agreement. I thought it was all credit to Penny Wong! But it is so good that they have finally come to their senses.

On this side, we know that the opposition has now done the right thing by supporting Australian jobs and Australia's future—our future, our children's future and our grandchildren's future—by leaving the politics at the door. I congratulate the Labor Party for that.

I am thrilled to rise today to speak about the Customs Amendment (China-Australia Free Trade Agreement Implementation) Bill 2015, because this will be of immeasurable benefit to my electorate of Durack, not just for today or tomorrow but for many years to come. This is a hallmark day in Australia's history. This deal, this agreement—'ChAFTA' as we call it—will be of unquantifiable value to Australia's economy. Chinese tariffs on key exports such as beef, dairy, horticulture, wine and coal will be slashed. We will see improved trade opportunities for a whole raft of services in education, hospitality, aged-care services and tourism, and also an improvement for the pharmaceutical industry—all of which will service the largest middle class in the world.

Independent economic modelling around ChAFTA, together with the Japanese and Korean free trade agreements, shows that it will add an additional $24 billion to Australia's economy between 2016 and 2035. We know—and we also know that those opposite know—that increased exports and cheaper exports will create more Australian jobs. It will allow Australian businesses to hire more workers.

I want to take this opportunity now to put on record my thanks to the Minister for Trade, Andrew Robb, for his tireless work on negotiating this excellent deal. This is truly an historic day in Australia's young history. The work that Minister Robb has done should be applauded, and I am pleased that he is getting some credit—although not a lot—from the other side.

Combined with the free trade agreements signed by Korea and Japan since we came to office just over two years ago, the China free trade agreement is forecast to create some 7,900 net jobs next year, and will peak at over 14,500 jobs in 2020, before returning to be over 5,400 jobs higher in 2035 than we would otherwise have had but for these three free trade agreements. Increased economic activity as a result of these free trade agreements will also encourage higher incomes, with real wages forecast to be over half a per cent higher by 2035 as a result of the benefits of these free trade agreements.

This increased economic activity is welcome news to the people of Durack, as higher incomes and lower prices will benefit these hardworking regional people. The Chinese free trade agreement will be of great benefit to my large and diverse electorate of Durack. The last agricultural census in 2011 illustrated that there were about one million head of cattle in Durack. In 2013-14, total beef exports from Durack, both live exports and beef produce, were worth approximately $215 million. Needless to say, this deal will have enormous benefit to my pastoralists in Durack—across the Pilbara, the Kimberley, the Mid West and the Gascoyne regions. Due to ChAFTA, opportunities for Durack cattle producers are limitless.

However, it is not only pastoralists in Durack who are going to benefit from this agreement. The largest grower and processor of chia seeds in the world, and one of the largest exporters of them in the world, The Chia Co, is just one business which is set to flourish under this agreement.

For those who are listening and who do not know, chia is a super food. For those wondering, it is a great source of fibre, protein and omega 3.

An interesting little stat is that the Aztecs really liked it back in the 1500s because it was one of their staple foods. So for those of you who are not on Chia seeds, you should be on them very soon. Based just outside of Kununurra, the Chia Co. has tried to get into the Chinese market for years and will no doubt be ecstatic on hearing the news about the passing of this legislation very shortly. I have no doubt that this agreement will help facilitate them to get into the Chinese market. After four years of trying to jump through all the hoops but not striking gold, they expect that their trade with China will turn over $1 million in the first 12 months of entering that market. This is just one example of the great news which ChAFTA has delivered. I would like to mention another great example in the midwest, in Durack, the Geraldton Fishermen's Co-operative. The Geraldton Fishermen's Co-operative are the largest live rock lobster exporters in the world. I know that they will welcome this opportunity as they will be able to directly export into China, benefiting all of those cray fishermen in my vast electorate of Durack.

Only this side of the chamber understands how to live sustainably whilst at the same time growing the Australian economy. In 2004, under the Howard government, the parliament voted the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement into law. At the time, it was that Australia's largest ever bilateral trade deal with the world's largest economy. Today as I stand here, the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement will become this country's biggest ever bilateral trade deal with our biggest trading partner. This deal represents the first stage of what promises to be one of our most successful economic relationships. This deal, along with the other free-trade agreements, illustrates that this coalition government can deliver a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia. It is deals like this that have led to Australia's impeccable record of 24 years of continuous growth.

This is indeed a significant day in Australia's history. The China free-trade agreement will be the largest bilateral trade deal on record. The agreement's benefit will be enormous to the Durack pastoralists, to horticultural businesses in Durack and also for other parts of Western Australia including the dairy farmers and the wine industry. This will increase Australia's economic pie while increasing real wages at the same time. This agreement has the Liberal Party fingerprints all over it. I again congratulate the minister for trade in his work in securing this deal.

This deal has been endorsed by a number of senior figures in the community including our Labor icons like Bob Hawke, Kevin Rudd and Martin Ferguson. I am sure they are delighted with the way we are progressing with this legislation now finally. Fortescue Metals, the National Farmers' Federation, the Australian Dairy Farmers and the Export Council of Australia are all among the many businesses and people who have publicly shown their support for the agreement, and I am sure they are charging a glass this evening as well.

Growing Australia's economy and creating jobs are two things I am very proud that this government has achieved since coming to office only two short years ago. I commend the bill to the House.