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Thursday, 15 October 2015
Page: 11389

Mr HUTCHINSON (Lyons) (14:34): My question is to the Minister for the Environment. Will the minister update the House on how innovative Australian businesses will create more jobs by exporting environmental technology thanks to the recent free trade agreements? Are there any threats to the creation of these jobs, so important in my electorate of Lyons?

Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for the Environment) (14:35): I am delighted to thank the member for Lyons, who is a very proud Tasmanian. He was one of the proud hosts of Taste of Tasmania last night, where the export goods that will be available, which will benefit under the free trade agreements in the form of beef and fish and other food products, were on display to the parliament.

It is not just Tasmanian food that can benefit from the four free trade agreements but it is also the export of environmental services. Tasmania and Australia have immense capacity in this space. We know that in Tasmania there is an engineering firm that does environmental testing. They have laboratory services, and they have the ability to go into the Chinese market and provide the clean air, clean land and clean water services that Australia excels in.

At the moment we export about $1.6 billion of innovative environmental services around the world, but we also know that the Chinese market is small as a percentage of that. It is less than 10 per cent of our overseas exports in the environmental services space, and yet the Chinese market is an enormous opportunity for Australians. So when we look at our innovative environmental services, what we see, on the advice of DFAT, is that China has almost $1 trillion of clean air, clean land, clean water and energy saving services a year. The reason why is they have immense pressure from their population and their industrialisation—up to nine percent of China's GDP is expended in improving air and water quality, in land remediation, in energy efficiency.

So, the market for Australian goods is enormous, and against that background the free trade agreements that are being negotiated give Australian firms an incredible opportunity—firms such as Envirolab in Sydney, which is one of Australia's and indeed the world's leaders in soil testing, in acid sulfate testing and in water testing. They have a new opportunity, with the removal of tariffs, to enter into the Chinese market. We should be growing that market, yet there is a threat to it. We see people on the other side who for their own reasons and their own purposes are willing to threaten Australian exports, threaten Australian jobs and deny the services to China in terms of better air quality and better water quality that every Australian should be embracing. It is extraordinary that the modern Labor Party stands in the way of Australian jobs, stands in the way of Australian exports and stands in the way of better services for clean air and clean water in China. (Time expired)