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Monday, 18 August 2003
Page: 18809

Mr Martin Ferguson asked the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, upon notice, on 24 June 2003:

(1) Does the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) bind current thresholds for triggering approval of investment proposals through the Foreign Investment Review Board.

(2) Does SAFTA bind current limits on foreign ownership of Qantas and other Australian international airlines; if so, what implications does such an agreement have should a future Commonwealth Government want to revise foreign ownership limits upwards.

(3) Could a decision by a future Commonwealth Government to increase foreign ownership levels for Qantas or other Australian international airlines under SAFTA require Australia to compensate Singapore through making additional commitments under SAFTA such as through open skies on cabotage for Singapore Airlines operations in Australia.

(4) Was he, his office or his department consulted on the implications of SAFTA for aviation policy in Australia; if so, (a) when did that consultation occur, (b) what was its nature, and (c) what position did the Minister put forward in that consultation

Mr Anderson (Minister for Transport and Regional Services) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) This question is a matter for the Treasurer.

(2) The SAFTA does not bind current limits on foreign ownership of Qantas and other Australian international airlines.

(3) No.

(4) Yes; [a] on a number of occasions in 2001, 2002 and 2003; [b] and [c] the Minister for Trade announced the decision of the Australian Government to enter into the SAFTA on 17 February 2003.