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Monday, 7 September 2015
Page: 6070

Trade with China

Senator SINODINOS (New South Wales) (14:19): Mr President, my question is to my friend and colleague the Minister for Human Services, Senator Payne, representing the Minister for Trade and Investment. Can the minister outline the benefits emerging from the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement? How does this agreement complete a successful trifecta of trade agreements that will create new jobs and opportunities for Australians, particularly in New South Wales?

Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Human Services) (14:20): I particularly want to thank Senator Sinodinos for that question as a fellow senator for New South Wales, because in the state of New South Wales, where half of the state's two-way goods trade is with our FTA trifecta countries, these are deals which were worth more than $53 billion last year alone. So the potential is absolutely extraordinary. Our trifecta of trade agreements is with the major economies of North Asia. They are very powerful neighbours and they are going to help us diversify this economy—which it needs, after all the years those opposite had in government. In particular. our landmark free trade agreement with China is going to open up huge opportunities for Australian resources, for agriculture, for manufacturing, for service industries. It will create thousands upon thousands of jobs into the future. Just like the trade deals with Japan and Korea, which are already in operation, the benefits from ChAFTA to Australian businesses, Australian workers and Australian companies will flow immediately.

In fact, if we implement ChAFTA this year, it will provide a double bonus effect of tariff cuts for our exporters—one round of tariff cuts this year and a second round of tariff cuts in January 2016. So how irresponsible is it to play games with these issues? How irresponsible is it to reject the advice of Labor figures like Simon Crean, like John Brumby, like Kevin Rudd, like Craig Emerson, like Martin Ferguson, like Labor premiers Daniel Andrews, Annastacia Palaszczuk, Jay Weatherill and ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr? They have all thrown their support behind this deal. Why? Because they have the capacity to see the opportunities it will provide for business in their jurisdictions. They have the experience to know what it can mean for this country. They know why it took 10 years to negotiate this deal and why the delays from the other side are so unhelpful. We need to pass the deal now. (Time expired)

Senator SINODINOS (New South Wales) (14:22): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Will the minister inform the Senate how the government is ensuring that businesses are aware of the opportunities presented by these trade deals?

Senator Cameron interjecting

Senator SINODINOS: What activities are underway to ensure that businesses both big and small can reap the benefits of these transformative agreements?

Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Human Services) (14:22): I note Senator Cameron says breathlessly, 'It's an advertising campaign,' which was of course secretly hidden in the budget papers in May of this year—some $24 million at the time—to raise awareness and assist businesses to take advantage of the enormous opportunities which are going to be presented by the FTA. We are rolling out a range of initiatives to promote the benefits of these agreements, to raise awareness and to encourage more businesses to export. It is not rocket science. Even Senator Cameron should be able to deal with it. It is about helping more businesses export, employ more Australians and promote this country internationally. All of those things—an innovative dashboard, FTA seminars across the country, enhanced helpdesk support, information kits and materials and other promotional activities to boost uptake—are going to encourage Australian business to do more work in this region, to engage more proactively with China and to create more business and more employment opportunities. (Time expired)

Senator SINODINOS (New South Wales) (14:23): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister outline to the Senate how specific companies are set to benefit from this trade trifecta? Is the minister aware of specific case studies that have emerged so far from the free trade agreement advocacy program?

Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Human Services) (14:23): I can do that, Senator Sinodinos. Last week in Parramatta in Western Sydney, the Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb, addressed a very popular free trade agreement seminar on just this subject. We all know that Western Sydney is an absolutely vital part of our economy, with two million people and over 150,000 local businesses. For a company like RBK Nutraceuticals from Seven Hills, the demand for their health supplements is increasing in China, Korea and Japan. Under the FTAs, RBK is set for a triple bonus of benefits, with Korea's eight per cent tariff to be eliminated by 2018, Japan locking in duty-free access and China's 20 per cent tariff to be fully lifted within four years. That can only help improve RBK's competitive position. It makes it easier for them to grow, prosper and employ more Australians—more people in Western Sydney—which is exactly what these trade agreements are all about. (Time expired)