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Monday, 26 February 2018
Page: 1954


Mr FALINSKI (Mackellar) (13:07): That was quite a substantive speech. It went on for a very long time, and I think the member for North Sydney, who claims he doesn't—

Mr Zimmerman: The member for Mackellar is reflecting on other members and quite unparliamentary!

Mr FALINSKI: I was just about to say the member for North Sydney has plenty of meat production in his area!

Anyway, free trade is a cornerstone of the liberal tradition in Australia. It allows Australians to have access to a wide range of goods and services that would otherwise be unattainable for the average consumer. It allows Australians to project their business and professional expertise across borders. In short, it allows Australians to thrive unencumbered by the constraints of protectionism that those opposite would introduce if they were given the chance. There has been no greater force in pulling people out of poverty than free trade. There has been no greater deterrent to war and conflict than free trade. It was the postwar regime of free trade and open markets that saw European nations rise from the rubble of war and re-emerge as competitive economies. It is free trade that will help to sustain our economy into the future and ensure that Australians have the means to succeed in a free and democratic country.

The government has a mandate to secure the economic future of our great country. As part of this commitment, we must continue to seek out and find new trade agreements that enable our nation to provide a better future for its people but, more importantly, a better world for all of us to live in. After all, it is this commitment that has helped to fuel over 26 years of uninterrupted economic growth.

What I love about this particular free trade agreement is that it was not only opposed by Labor but dismissed by them. The Leader of the Opposition said:

Ever since Donald Trump got elected back in November, Mr Turnbull should have realised that the Trans-Pacific Partnership was dead.

'Well, the TPP's dead,' he said. In the words of Mark Twain, these reports were 'greatly exaggerated'. I think we call this an 'oops' moment. I would say the Leader of the Opposition has egg on his face, but I'm starting to think that he actually enjoys it, so I don't want to encourage more of it.

But let us take a moment to look at what the free trade agreement which the Leader of the Opposition was so keen to walk away from is going to bring Australians. The TPP-11 will eliminate more than 98 per cent of tariffs in a trade zone with a combined GDP of $13.7 trillion, and the countries included in this trade agreement are the fastest-growing in the world. It was complicated and difficult. In total, it represents 18 new free trade agreements. The $88 billion that we currently export to these countries is now set to grow and grow significantly. This, in turn, will increase jobs and increase wages.

So once again the Liberal Party are not just talking the talk; we are walking the walk. The text of the agreement has been published and is publicly available. The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties will examine the agreement and then legislation will need to be introduced, at which time we will get to see if Labor is willing to stop believing in unicorns and support this once-in-a-generation agreement. We will see if Labor and the Australian Conservatives will support accelerated reductions in Japan's tariffs on beef, where Australian currently exports $2 billion—many of the people affected by that live in the member for North Sydney's electorate. We will see if Labor and the Australian Conservatives will support the elimination of cheese tariffs into Japan, worth another $100 million in trade. We will see if Labor and the Australian Conservatives support quota reductions for wheat and rice to Japan and sugar to Japan, Canada and Mexico. Will Labor and the Australian Conservatives support elimination of all tariffs on sheepmeat, cotton, wool, seafood, horticulture, wine and industrial products?

Before they start on the excuses, let us be clear: Australia does not need to change one line of intellectual property law, which has embedded in it protections for areas such as biosecurity, health policy and environment policy. As for the labour market testing, let us be equally clear: this agreement will overwhelmingly benefit Australia as services become our fastest-growing exports. But Labor and the Australian Conservatives are bolted onto the past and do not understand a modern economy. I guess this is why they were unable to conclude a single free trade agreement and Australians had to wait for us to do the job. Those opposite were in power for six very long years, and all they had to show for it was is a string of debt and unpaid bills. Not a single substantive reform or long-lasting benefit was delivered to this country in that time.

If you are worried about cost-of-living issues then free trade is one solution to rising prices. If you want more jobs then look to free trade. If you want better-paying jobs, look no further than free trade. If you want to help people out of poverty, both here and around the globe, I humbly suggest that you have a closer look at free trade.