PMB – Trade and the TPP-11
Mr PITT (Hinkler) (10:25): It’s my great pleasure to rise to speak on this PMB. As I know you know, Mr Speaker, there were people in this place who said that this couldn’t be done; that the TPP-11 was dead, couldn’t be recovered and couldn’t be delivered. Well, here it is. The Coalition Government is again delivering on trade. We have already signed agreements with China, Japan, South Korea and Peru. We are in negotiations for the RCEP, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, with Indonesia, and we have signed the TPP-11 when those on the opposite side of the chamber said that it could not be done; that we should walk away from something which has a $13.8 trillion GDP. There are arrangements for which people in Queensland and New South Wales have sales into those regions and countries: in Queensland, $6.3 billion for coal; for the meat of bovine animals, fresh, chilled and frozen, $1½ billion; unwrought aluminium; and in New South Wales, coal, once again, at $8.4 billion. It is no surprise to me that resources and agriculture are two of the biggest exports from those two big states on the east coast, which will get a great benefit from the TPP-11.
For the people in my electorate, it is very straightforward. One in five jobs in this country rely on trade. For Australia, trade means jobs. More trade means more jobs, and that is what we are about as a coalition government. We have delivered over a million jobs in the last five years, as we said we would. The focus for me as a local member is to ensure that those jobs are in my electorate, where, unfortunately, we find ourselves in a very difficult position, with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. For my people, my businesses and my exporters, this agreement means more jobs for us.
What will the opposition say? Unfortunately, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Shorten, wanted to take the approach of Monty Python—I’m sure you would be aware of that, Mr Speaker; you are probably of the right ilk for Monty Python!—but not the approach of the Black Knight, where he will fight to a standstill for the Australian people, Australian trade and Australian jobs, but the other approach, which is to run away, retreat, say it’s too hard and not deliver. I say to those on the opposite side: this is a good deal, which should be ratified by the Australian parliament. The Leader of the Opposition should go back and apologise for what he said to the Australian people about this arrangement. Quite simply, this is about trade and jobs, and jobs for our regions.
As I’ve said, in my local area, this is about a stronger regional economy. This is about more local jobs. We are continuing to build our local regional economy by multi-streaming it, with support from the Coalition Government. Under the Regional Jobs and Investment Package, we put $9.65 million into five projects in the Hinkler electorate, which resulted in over $31 million worth of construction. Why is that important, and what is the arrangement in terms of the TPP-11? Well, it’s quite straightforward. Macadamias Australia received $4.68 million to extend its operations. This is an organisation that exports 100 per cent of their product locally, which is macadamias. The Member for Cowper and the Member for Page may disagree, but the Australian macadamia association does not: the biggest producer of macadamias in Australia is now in my electorate, around the town of Bundaberg. That means more jobs through processing and more jobs in the local region, at its factory on Goodwood Road.
We have the local business of Austchilli, which received $1½ million to extend their packaging operations. This is an organisation which exports right around the world chilli products, herbs and a lot of other processed bits and pieces. They’re pretty well known. They’ve shown up on MasterChef and other things around Australian domestic television. I think it’s really important that we continue to support them because they employ local people. They are not shifting their jobs offshore; they are not shifting their jobs away; they’re doing it here and we need to support them through better trade arrangements. Every time we reduce a tariff on an Australian product in an overseas country they become more competitive because the forward-facing price is cheaper. That is what we are about: we are about delivering more trade for more jobs for our regions.
Costa Avocados received $495,000. One of our largest exports around the world is avocados because they are a first-class product. Once again, in their processing facility near Childers, a small town in my electorate, they employ local people. This is what it’s about. The more we can deliver in terms of trade, the better the opportunities for the Australian nation and the more chances for our businesses to employ more people because they have more confidence and a stronger bottom line. So the Coalition Government will continue to deliver on trade agreements, we will continue to deliver on jobs and we will continue to deliver on stronger regional economies and local jobs for our people.