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Bracks' inquiry: pro-tariff, anti-FTA.



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- MEDIA RELEASE - SENATOR THE HON. ERIC ABETZ Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research

Media enquiries: Brad Stansfield 0419 884 666 1

A0821 31st March 2008

Bracks’ inquiry: Pro-tariff, anti-FTA

Today’s Discussion Paper released by the Bracks’ inquiry into Australia’s automotive industry confirms its - and the Rudd Government’s - bias towards freezing tariffs and reducing the emphasis on Free Trade Agreements, the Shadow Minister for Innovation and Industry, Senator Eric Abetz, said today.

“Despite Senator Carr’s claims to the contrary, it is clear that the issue of tariffs is “core business” for this inquiry”, Senator Abetz said.

“Mr Bracks is clearly doing what Senator Carr hand-picked him for - biasing the inquiry towards recommending a freeze on tariff reductions, and a move away from Free Trade Agreements.

“It is clear from the Discussion Paper’s highlighting of the “already low”1 tariff on motor vehicle imports that Mr Bracks is pushing a Rudd Government agenda to abandon the scheduled 2010 tariff cut.

“All attempts at subtlety are removed further on when the Paper bluntly asks “is it appropriate to reduce the passenger motor vehicle and parts thereof tariff to 5 percent in 2010 or is it appropriate for it to remain at 10 percent?”.2

“Also concerning is the Paper’s anti-Free Trade Agreement tone, which is highlighted by asking whether Australia should continue negotiating free trade agreements.3

“But then, in view of the Minister’s failure to endorse the benefits of the US FTA when I asked him in Senate Question Time 4recently, this should come as no surprise.

“There is no doubt that despite its spin, the Rudd Labor Government is bent on re-imposing a regressive, 20th century protectionism on Australian industry, rather than supporting the development of an innovative, modern, 21st century industry.”

ENDS.

1 Discussion Paper, p. 9 2 Ibid., p. 12 3

Ibid, p. 13 4 Senate Question Time, 20th March