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Thursday, 12 August 2004
Page: 26375

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) (4:55 PM) —This is now the fourth day on which we have been discussing this issue. The goal of the free trade agreement is to provide improved access for Australian goods and services—this is from our perspective—to facilitate economic growth and to look towards our goal of employing a further 30,000 Australian employees. Senator Brown laughs at that. The Greens do not believe in economic growth; they just talk about redistribution. That is what we are seeking to do.

Senator Brown —Answer the question.

Senator HILL —Senator Brown is engaged in a filibuster. He is now putting down amendments to amendments, and so it goes on. I was answering the question. What I was about to say is that we are determined that the benefits that Australia can get out of the free trade agreement will not be achieved by sacrificing important protections and values within our existing system. In the aspect of public health that we have been talking about, the benefits that flow to Australians through our PBS system in relation to the cost of medicines, we have been saying that that will not be affected by the free trade agreement. It was an area that the Australian government were determined to protect, and it is an area which the Australian government remain confident we have protected. We therefore have a win-win outcome. We provide the opportunity for further economic growth, with all the benefits that flow to all Australians from that, whilst at the same time preserving and protecting a system designed to ensure that Australians have access to affordable medicines. I am very pleased that, out of a very long and difficult negotiation, we were able to achieve that win-win outcome.