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Wednesday, 14 November 2018
Page: 8133


Senator HUME (VictoriaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (15:08): I'm absolutely gobsmacked at the extraordinary hypocrisy of the Labor Party, weeping hot tears of grief on a free trade agreement after five free trade agreements have already been negotiated by the coalition; two of which I vaguely remember the Labor Party actually tried to scuttle—the China free trade agreement and the TPP. Yet now they come in here bleating about an Indonesia free trade agreement.

I agree with Senator Wong on one thing: she is absolutely right when she says that the partnership between Australia and Indonesia is one of our nation's most significant. She is right, because Indonesia is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and it presents significant and profound opportunities for Australia as the demand grows for our goods and our services and particularly our produce. It has a rapidly growing consumer base and it is projected to be the world's fourth-largest economy in the world by 2050. By bolstering the economic ties between our nations it will lead to even greater opportunities for Australian businesses, for Australian manufacturers and for Australian farmers.

Our extensive relationship with Indonesia is both mature and strong. It sustains constructive dialogue on all issues of common interest and it is steeped in the history of both our nations. Do you know what, Madam Deputy President? Prime Minister Morrison, who is talking about an Indonesian free trade agreement as we sit here today, is just the right man to do it. We can rely on Prime Minister Morrison to make the right deals. When we are dotting the i's and crossing the t's, as Senator Cormann mentioned, on this free trade agreement he is the right man to be doing it.

He's a man that we've trusted with the most important decisions of this government for the last five years. If we think about it, at the stage when the coalition came to office it was Mr Morrison who was the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. He was the man who stopped the boats. He was the man who turned them around and sent them back. He was the man who shut down 18 detention centres in the last five years. He was the man who did that.

When he was the Minister for Social Services, he was the one who reduced our welfare dependency to its lowest rate in 25 years. And, of course, as Treasurer his track record speaks for itself. We now have economic growth of 3.4 per cent. That is at the top of the OECD league ladder and it is the envy of the developed world. We have created more than 1.2 million jobs in the last five years alone; 89,000 were what the Labor Party created in their last year of government. That's 89,000 compared to 1.2 million new jobs, with around 400,000 in the last 12 months. The vast majority of those were full-time, and the vast majority went to women. In fact, the female participation rate is at higher levels than it has ever been at before. Youth unemployment is down to low levels—the lowest levels in 25 years. We've maintained our AAA credit rating from not one, not two, but three credit-rating agencies. And, of course, the budget is on its way back to balance one year earlier than anticipated. That's what good fiscal management will deliver.

And good fiscal management pays political dividends, because people want an economy that's creating jobs and they want an economy that's growing, and they trust Prime Minister Morrison to deliver it in the same way that they have trusted Prime Minister Morrison to negotiate the finer points of an Indonesian free trade agreement—an Indonesian free trade agreement which is part of our growth strategy for the Australian economy.

As I said, this is the sixth free trade agreement that we've negotiated in just five years. Think about it: the China free trade agreement was a game-changing and transformative agreement for the Australian economy. There was China, Japan, South Korea and the TPP—of course, we could hardly forget the TPP. We nearly didn't get that through; that was only in the last couple of weeks. Now there is Peru and, finally, Indonesia in just five years. That's how we create the opportunities for Australian businesses and that's how we ensure our economy stays strong. That's how we can ensure that there are jobs and growth for future generations of Australians. (Time expired)