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Monday, 3 June 2013
Page: 4949

Dr EMERSON (RankinMinister for Trade and Competitiveness, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Asian Century Policy) (16:21): In respect of the white paper on Australia in the Asian century, this is a plan for Australia. It is a plan for deeper and broader engagement between Australia and the region, which is the fastest growing region on earth. By 2030, it is expected that there will be three billion middle-class customers in Asia, and the Australian government is overseeing a transition where we broaden that relationship. Minerals and energy will continue to be important, but there are whole lot of areas such as premium agricultural products and services where we think Australia has potential strengths based on our natural endowments and our acquired attributes—that is the theme of the white paper on Australia in the Asian century.

That white paper is being implemented and an implementation plan, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has indicated, has been released publicly. It has been overseen by an advisory board, and the shadow minister's question is: what experience have members of that advisory board had in Asia? I think the shadow minister should know that. Ken Henry, as the original chair, of this exercise has consulted extensively and gone through various countries of the region in preparing a lot of input into the white paper. John Denton, who is a senior in the Business Council of Australia, as a legal professional has had deep experience with Asia and continues to do so, and Catherine Livingstone of Telstra, similarly. We have a appointed the chair, Hamish Tyrwhitt , and he through Leighton Holdings and his earlier work has had at least 15 years not only experience with Asia but living in Asia. I would have thought that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would have tried to do enough homework even just to check his curriculum vitae. She would have found that. Rebecca Dee-Bradbury is the CEO of Kraft. This is an industry which we consider to be a sunrise industry—that is, the production of premium agricultural products here in Australia, not only the growing, Mr Deputy Speaker Georganas, but the manufacturing of those products. In your own area, South Australian wines are regarded very highly in the region, and this is an areas of high value-added and very high demand. Margaret Gardner from RMIT: again, they have engagement with and some campuses in Asia and of course we see one of the future growing industries—and it is more than an industry—with Asia as our higher education. This is a way of strengthening the ties between our two countries, earning some expert income and creating ambassadors for Australia in Asia and for Asian countries in Australia.

In respect of streamlining of visa processes, we have moved in that direction. We have been working with China to do that, and more work will be done as the Chinese are able to take some further steps with Australia in that regard.

On food security: the issue is a big one in the 21st century. There are seven billion people on earth now. By 2050 there will be 9.3 billion people on earth, and obviously food security is one of the defining issues of the 21st century.

I hear the Deputy Leader of the Opposition asking about live cattle exports. Yes, I do talk very regularly with my counterpart Indonesian Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan about those matters. You might be aware that just last week the Indonesians announced that they are allowing premium beef cuts in duty free and quota free. That is a really good development. I must have missed the press release from the coalition congratulating Australia and Indonesia on that, but the fact is that the coalition is only interested in bad news and never good news.

On the business program of $6 million that is contained in the white paper: the fact is that applications have been received—there has been an enormous level of interest in that—and final decisions will be announced on the successful recipients of this round of applications.

On free trade agreements, let us just start with China, where I remember the Deputy Leader of the Opposition saying that that was a priority, and the day after— (Time expired)