Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 17 September 2015
Page: 7169

Trade with China


Senator BERNARDI (South Australia) (14:53): My question is to the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator Cash. Can the minister advise the Senate, in relation to the import of goods through Australia's borders, of whether opponents of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement are consistent in their claims to be protecting the jobs of Australian workers?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaAssistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women) (14:54): I thank Senator Bernardi for his question. The CFMEU campaign being waged against the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement is—and I am going to quote another former Labor Senator who has now come onboard, former Labor Senator John Black—'a throwback to the Labor Party of 100 years ago … It's certainly xenophobic'. Senators would be interested to know that the material being distributed by the CFMEU, arguing against this historic free trade agreement, argues: 'Australian manufacturing workers will lose their jobs as cheap imported products send Australian companies out of business.'

So, imagine my surprise when it was recently brought to my attention that the very merchandise that you see being worn by those CFMEU protestors at their anti free trade agreement protests are actually made in China—exhibit A, the CFMEU cap; you flip it over, and what does it say? Made in China. Even though the CFMEU are out there waging a xenophobic campaign, they do not have enough shame to actually purchase their products in Australia. It is a fact: you are allowed to purchase products from China. I support that. I hope that with the free trade agreement more Australians can do that. But the hypocrisy of the CFMEU wearing products made in China—

Senator Cormann interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Cormann, remove that cap.

Senator CASH: whilst at the same time waging a war. Senators on the other side will be pleased to know that there is a manufacturer in Australia that can make you those caps. The CFMEU know that, but they just did not choose that manufacturer.

The PRESIDENT: Before I call Senator Bernardi, I will just remind senators on my right that you are not allowed to use props, and that includes a baseball cap.

Senator Bernardi: Mr President, it may assist the Senate if the minister tabled the baseball cap so that we could all view it!

Senator Cash interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Cash, you do not have the call.







Senator BERNARDI (South Australia) (14:57): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Would the minister please advise the Senate of how unions and workers will benefit from the reduction in tariffs on Australian exports under the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaAssistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women) (14:58): Yes, I can. There is a particular Australian manufacturer that has workers who will benefit, and that is of course the manufacturer in Australia that produces this baseball cap that the CFMEU imports from China. As I was saying, you have to say to these Australian manufacturers: the CFMEU had a choice; they just did not choose you. It is a fact that in relation to the free trade agreement Australia exported in excess of $90 billion worth of products to China in 2013-14. In fact, that was around one-third of Australia's total exports to all countries. And when we ratify the free trade agreement, 92.9 per cent of China's imports will be duty-free, with the remaining tariffs eliminated in four years. (Time expired)


Senator BERNARDI (South Australia) (14:59): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister advise the Senate of what impact the passage of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement will have on the tariffs applicable to campaign merchandise and apparel?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaAssistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women) (14:59): I can certainly inform those on the other side, who can then take it back to their CFMEU bosses, that their merchandise will actually be even cheaper if they back the free trade agreement. How about that? The union members will be able to buy cheaper products, which is a good thing, I would have thought. At their next protest rally they could be fitted out with heavily discounted products. For the record, in relation to the products that are found on the union's website, the tariffs on clothing made of non-woven material from China would go from five per cent down to zero. Tariffs on polyester flags—and we often see those polyester flags at the protests—will disappear altogether, as will the tariffs on vinyl banners. And I am sure those on the other side will be pleased, as we go into summer, that Chinese-made sunglasses will also soon be tariff free. It is very convenient to stand here and not back the— (Time expired)

Senator Abetz: Mr President, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.