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Labor's lip service to Australian exporters.

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The Hon Ian Macfarlane MP Shadow Minister for Trade (to 22 September 2008)

Kevin Rudd has been caught out paying lip service to the role of Australia's exporters, Shadow Minister for Trade Ian Macfarlane said today.

''Last time Labor had anything to say about Australia's international trade relationships it was taking the axe to the negotiating budget for Free Trade Agreements with both China and Japan,'' Mr Macfarlane said.

''Today Mr Rudd told the ABARE Outlook 2008 Conference: 'Income growth in emerging economies, and the burgeoning middle class in nations like China and India, are changing global agrifood markets and creating tremendous new market opportunities for Australian agriculture.

The agricultural sector... relies on the Government to achieve the best possible outcomes on market access, whether through multilateral, regional or bilateral agreements.

We are committed to using all options to expand opportunities for Australian exporters.'

''I'm glad the Prime Minister finally seems to realise just how important Australia's trade relationships are but how can exporters take him at his word when his speech coincides with the sharp edge of the razor gang shredding the budget for negotiations on these Free Trade Agreements?

''This comes on the back of Labor's wavering rhetoric on the role of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements and its backward looking trade review that is putting exporters' lives on hold for the next six months while Labor learns the ropes.

''Perhaps Mr Rudd or Trade Minister Simon Crean can explain exactly how Labor's erratic approach to trade policy will help exporters capitalise on the opportunities of emerging international markets?

''Once again we're hearing a contrived message from the Rudd Government, depending on what it thinks the audience wants to hear.

''Australian exporters need certainty and a commitment from the Government to work in their best interests ? not be reduced to the role of pawns in the Rudd Labor's Government's incessant game of image manipulation.''