Question time - trade with China

  • Transcript, E&OE

Mr WILSON (O'Connor) (14:45): Myquestion is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the minister explain howthis government's China-Australia Free Trade Agreement will deliver jobs andgrowth to the resources and energy industry, particularly in Western Australia?Are there any threats to the realisation of these benefits?

Dr CHALMERS: MrSpeaker, I rise on a point of order.

The SPEAKER: I will hear the point of order, but I remind the member forRankin that I have already warned members that I will not entertain frivolouspoints of order.

Dr CHALMERS: Iunderstand, Mr Speaker. Page 555 of the Practice makesit very clear that ministers are not to be questioned on opposition policies.

The SPEAKER: No, I am sorry. I have dealt with this matter already, memberfor Rankin. You sat and you listened to me deal with this matter within thefirst couple of days of my speakership where I referred to the practice before2008. The member for Hotham raised a number of points of order on this. It is afrivolous point of order. The member for Rankin is warned!

Honourable members interjecting– The SPEAKER: I addressed this at great length. The question did not mentionthe opposition.

Government members interjecting– The SPEAKER: Members on my right will cease interjecting.

Mr BURKE: MrSpeaker, I rise on the point of order. It is accepted that people will bewarned for frivolous points of order. When someone is actually quotingPractice it ishard to argue that it is on the frivolous side of points of order.

The SPEAKER: The Minister for Foreign Affairs has the call.

Ms JULIE BISHOP (Curtin–Minister for Foreign Affairs) (14:47): I thank the member for O'Connor for his question. Iparticularly welcome that intervention from the member for Rankin because hebacks Bob Hawke's view of the free trade agreement. The member for Rankin saysthat Bob Hawke is right and calls upon the Leader of the Opposition to get outof the way of signing the free trade agreement. Well done Bob Hawke, and youbacked Bob Hawke so I thank the member for Rankin for his timely intervention.

The member for O'Connor is well aware of the importance thatmining, resources and energy play in providing jobs in the Western Australianeconomy and across our nation. Every member of this parliament should besupporting the China free trade agreement so that the full benefits of moreAustralian jobs and more export opportunities for our businesses, small, mediumand large, can be realised. China is Australia's largest resources and energymarket. Exports were worth more than $85 billion in 2013-14. Under the freetrade agreement all tariffs on resources and energy products will be eliminatedwithin four years. In fact, most of them will occur as soon as the free tradeagreement enters into force. What we will see is the agreement locking in zerotariffs on major resource exports such as iron ore, gold, crude petroleum oilsand LNG. This will give Australian mining, resource and energy companies a hugecompetitive advantage in the Chinese market. It will lead to more mining,resource and energy projects and more jobs here in Australia.

The biggest threat to more Australian jobs and moreopportunities under the free trade agreement is, in fact, the Leader of theOpposition. In trying to derail the China free trade agreement he would preferto see these jobs go to competitive countries, and these Australian jobs willgo to competitive countries if this agreement does not go ahead. Theopportunities will be taken up by other countries. Our businesses and ourworkers will miss out. Of course, the Leader of the Opposition has form on freetrade agreements. We know from the Labor Party pick for Prime Minister, MarkLatham, that the Leader of the Opposition cannot be trusted when it comes tofree trade agreements. He said:

… Public Shorten against the FTA, Private Billy in favour of it.

TheLeader of the Opposition is actually double dealing on this free tradeagreement, as he did on the US free trade agreement. Mark Latham reminded us inSeptember 2005 in a Lateline interview:

… how do you consult with a union leader like Shorten, who'ssaying one thing publically and exactly the opposite privately?

… … …

I think it's a … black mark against … Shorten's name.

Hewent on to observe that Shorten spoke with contempt for the members of hisunion and tried to walk both sides of the street. The Leader of the Oppositionshould remember to put the national interest first– (Timeexpired)

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