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Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Page: 12113

Mr EWEN JONES (HerbertGovernment Whip) (21:19): I support the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement because we live in the world today. The days of Australia being an island continent that this fully self-sufficient in everything are long gone. We have to have access to foreign capital. We have to have access to foreign investment. We must avail ourselves of those markets overseas which are just so important to us. The days of AWA televisions and those sorts of things are long gone. Australians want the best of things and we are in a smaller world. We must make ourselves competitive on the world stage.

I want to be very specific about Northern Australia. The development of Northern Australia depends on foreign capital. The development of Northern Australia depends on our ability to develop our resources industries and our water industries, our energy products and our water products to be able to develop those niche market products that we can get into those places.

We need to be able to bring in the infrastructure that would come naturally or organically in Australia over a period of 50 years. We need to be able to shorten that period. That is why the infrastructure facilitation arrangement is just so very important. Let me clarify this: to qualify for an IFA, you must have at least $100 million—we hope it is much more than that—it must be greenfield and it must be infrastructure that is economically challenging. You can then go onto the next area where all your labour market testing is done.

The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement is brilliant for us. It follows on the great work done by Andrew Robb, Minister for Trade and Investment, and all our team. The member Gary Gray said 'this follows on from a lot of work done by everyone and we are the ones that brought it home' but Andrew Robb has been absolutely brilliant in this. I do not think we have too many people in this parliament whose work has ever been able to compare to the work that he has been able to put on the ground here. He and his team must be justifiably proud.

When I look at these things, I say that the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement is all about the north of Australia, it is all about what is good about the north of Australia and it is all about developing the north of Australia. I see nothing but positives in this for anybody in the north of Australia. We have the goal of having between five and six million people in the north of Australia by 2050. That is 35 years to more than quadruple our population. To do that we must have massive infrastructure, and in Australia we do not have enough savings in our own country to facilitate our own mortgages, let alone our infrastructure. We must bring these things forward, and being a good global citizen is all about that. So I support this agreement, I congratulate all those people who have been involved in this and I thank the House.