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Monday, 12 October 2015
Page: 7289

Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

Senator LINDGREN (Queensland) (14:07): My question is to the Cabinet Secretary, representing the Minister for Trade and Investment. Can the Cabinet Secretary inform the Senate about the recent Trans-Pacific Partnership, finalised by the Turnbull government?

Senator SINODINOS (New South WalesCabinet Secretary) (14:07): I thank Senator Lindgren for this important question. A senator from the great—

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: On my left!

Senator Cameron: She's to your left!

Senator SINODINOS: She has moved! She is going up, from the great state of Queensland.

Firstly, let me congratulate the Minister for Trade and Investment, Mr Robb, for achieving such a positive outcome for all Australians. Andrew Robb has done a great job with three free trade agreements—with Japan, Korea and China—and now the crowning achievement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which involves 12 nations in a multilateral agreement covering around 40 per cent of the world's economic activity and more than $100 billion of Australia's two-way trade. It is the biggest such deal in 20 years, the biggest since the Uruguay Round, which shows that this coalition, under both Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull, has been committed to the future prosperity of and closer relations with our regional partners.

Along with the Korea, China and Japan free trade agreements, this agreement will ensure that Australia is competitive in key markets as the mining boom winds down and the world's economic centre shifts increasingly to the Asia-Pacific. It covers Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand—

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator SINODINOS: you can only dream of this over there—Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. It will slash barriers to Australian exports of goods and services and investment. Ninety-eight per cent of all tariffs will be eliminated, and red tape will be cut across the region.

By boosting trade with a third of our export markets, this government is supporting jobs growth across the agriculture, resources, manufacturing, financial, education, health, transportation, telecommunications, hospitality and professional services sectors. You can only dream about this! And it provides a framework for future industries: for innovation, for e-commerce, for IT.

Senator LINDGREN (Queensland) (14:09): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Will the Cabinet Secretary inform the Senate how the Trans-Pacific Partnership will benefit Australia's agriculture sector?

Senator SINODINOS (New South WalesCabinet Secretary) (14:09): The agriculture sector has no greater friend than the coalition. Australia's farmers and associated industries are in for a billion-dollar boost to their sector. Thanks to the TPP, tariffs will be abolished on a number of our agricultural commodities. Tariffs on beef exported to Canada and Mexico are being eliminated.

The PRESIDENT: Pause the clock.

Senator Whish-Wilson: On a point of order, Mr President: I am not sure how the minister can tell us this when he has not released the text of the agreement yet.

The PRESIDENT: That is a debating point, Senator Whish-Wilson.

Senator SINODINOS: Beef safeguards in the US market will be removed, and there are further significant tariff reductions on beef to Japan. Both wheat and barley tariffs will be eliminated for exports to Canada and Mexico. Quotas will be expanded for rice, barley and wheat exports to Japan. Tariffs—this is of particular interest to Senator Edwards—for wine exports to Mexico, Canada, Peru, Malaysia and Vietnam will be eliminated.

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator SINODINOS: You don't like this, do you? Seafood tariffs will be abolished for exports to Canada, Peru, Vietnam, Mexico and Japan, and we will have increased access to the US sugar market.

The PRESIDENT: Pause the clock. Senator Dastyari, a point of order?

Senator Dastyari: I note that the minister keeps making reference to a document. Can he actually table the TPP?

The PRESIDENT: That is not a point of order, Senator Dastyari, and the time has now expired for the Cabinet Secretary's answer.

Senator LINDGREN (Queensland) (14:11): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Is the Cabinet Secretary aware of comments made by business and industry leaders about the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

Senator SINODINOS (New South WalesCabinet Secretary) (14:11): The Australian community, including our business community, has welcomed the announcement of the TPP. The BCA chief executive, Jennifer Westacott, said:

This is an extraordinary deal for our future prosperity and we've done it on our terms, something Trade Minister Andrew Robb should be congratulated for …

And she said:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) puts Australia firmly in the front seat of the biggest global trade deal in 20 years …

Innes Willox from the AiG said the Trans-Pacific Partnership:

… gives easier access into markets that have been particularly tough nuts to crack.

He said:

We are pleased to see that negotiators have included mechanisms to address non-tariff barriers within the agreement, ensuring that it is a dynamic and practical tool for ongoing trade access.

The Cattle Council of Australia president, Howard Smith, said:

This agreement signifies a game changing opportunity for Australian beef.

…   …   …

… This rapid growth in market access in the Asia Pacific … will build an unprecedented opportunity for our farmers, local communities and businesses …

(Time expired)

Senator Cameron: You'd better do something about climate change!

The PRESIDENT: Order, Senator Cameron. You have a colleague on her feet.