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Wednesday, 16 September 2015
Page: 6996

Trade with China


Senator FAWCETT (South AustraliaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (14:41): Mr President, my question is also to the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator Cash. Can the minister inform the Senate of further statements of support for free trade agreements, such as the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, outlining the benefits they have for Australian jobs? Can the minister confirm that the labour market testing provisions in the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement protect the jobs and maximise the job opportunities for Australian workers in the future?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaAssistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women) (14:42): I thank Senator Fawcett for his question, which raises two very important issues. In relation to the first issue:

Australia can never rely solely upon our domestic economy to generate the growth we need to create jobs - not today, not ever.

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Miners, manufacturing workers, food processing workers, truck drivers, wharfies, warehousing workers, shop assistants - their jobs all depend on exports and imports.

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Exporting doesn't only mean more jobs - it means better jobs.

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It benefits working people by creating better-paid, more rewarding and more secure jobs.

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Trade agreements open up world markets for Australian businesses, allowing them to find new sources of demand for the goods and services that Australian workers produce.

I think that all of us in this chamber can agree that these sentiments sum up the benefits of free trade agreements to jobs and the economy. In fact, even I agree with those statements and sentiments. They are not mine. I did not say that. Let me tell you who did. It was not a current state Labor figure. It was not a former state Labor figure. It was Senator Wong, the shadow minister for trade, who just three months ago delivered an address to the Australian Fabians Forum espousing all of the virtues of free trade.

But, of course, Senator Wong's sentiments changed just 41 days later after the Labor Party's national conference when she got her instructions from the CFMEU to be part of a duplicitous campaign based on lies and misinformation. It is a campaign that is, without a doubt, xenophobic. I say to those on the other side: if you support trade, if you know, as Senator Wong does, or at least say she does, that these agreements bring benefits, then support the China-Australia agreement. (Time expired)


Senator FAWCETT (South AustraliaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (14:44): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Will the minister inform the Senate how Australian jobs are maximised through the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement and, in particular, why it is important to embrace this opportunity and to reject xenophobia?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaAssistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women) (14:44): Again I am going to rely on the words of Senator Wong herself to answer the question. Senator Wong made three further points in her speech. Firstly:

Protectionism is a false panacea.

Secondly:

Sitting on the sidelines while other countries negotiate trade agreements is also a false panacea.

Thirdly:

Refusing to enter trade agreements will allow our competitors to gain market share at Australia's expense.

Senator Wong, we on this side could not agree with you more. Labor's scaremongering on behalf of their union bosses is going to destroy job opportunities for Australians. It is time for those opposite to stop standing up and giving speeches behind closed doors in support of free trade, espousing the virtues of free trade and free trade agreements. It is time for those on the other side to put the Australian worker first, support growth and support the chapter. (Time expired)


Senator FAWCETT (South AustraliaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (14:46): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister advise the Senate which industries will benefit and thereby create more Australian jobs as a result of the trade liberalisation that will flow from the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement? How can this be further facilitated by good policy at the border?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaAssistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women) (14:46): Yes, I can. Under the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement more than 95 per cent of our exports to China will become entirely duty free. That is what those opposite are standing in the way of. This means that wine tariffs of up to 30 per cent, beef tariffs of up to 25 per cent, seafood tariffs of up to 15 per cent, dairy tariffs of 20 per cent, tariffs on our lamb, cheese and services, including all of our resources, all go. In relation to the minerals sector, the elimination of all coal tariffs is a boost of around $600 million. Speaking as a Western Australian, this is very important to my home state. Those on the other side are prepared to do the bidding of their mates in the CFMEU and are prepared to be a part of a campaign of lies and misinformation. Why? Because they are the puppets of the unions when they should be serving the Australian people's interests. (Time expired)