Mr COULTON (Parkes—Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government and Assistant Trade and Investment Minister) (14:48): I’d like to thank the member for Dawson for his question and recognise his knowledge of and passion for the exporters in his electorate, particularly in the beef and sugar industries.
All members on this side of the House recognise the important contribution our agricultural and mineral exports make to Australia’s economic prosperity and to the vitality of our regional and rural communities. Trade makes a significant contribution to our economy, creating more jobs—more higher-paying jobs, I might say—and increasing our capacity to pay for the essential services that Australians rely on. For this reason, improving access to our exporters for international markets is critically important.
That’s why the Morrison-McCormack government is continuing to deliver on its ambitious trade agenda.
In this context, I welcome the passage through the Senate yesterday of the legislation to implement the FTAs with Indonesia, Peru and Hong Kong. These three agreements deliver real outcomes for businesses in regional Australia, including in the member for Dawson’s electorate. The agreement with Peru will deliver zero tariffs on beef within five years, giving Australian beef producers the same access to the Peruvian market as US farmers. This agreement also provides Australian sugar producers with better access than Peru has provided to any other exporter in the last twenty years and historic new access for our dairy producers—all-important to the member for Dawson. The agreement with Indonesia will deliver significant new access for our exporters of live cattle, beef, sheepmeat, feed grains and dairy. Only a couple of weeks ago, when I was in Indonesia at the Indonesian Australia Business Council meeting, our exporters were already in Indonesia making those contacts to take advantage of these agreements.
Our agriculture sector recognises the very real outcomes that will be generated by these agreements. Cane growers have stated that the Peru-Australia free trade agreement will deliver an extra $13.5 million to the cane farmers in phase 1 of the deal alone. The Red Meat Advisory Council has described the Peruvian market as a new market with emerging potential for our beef and sheepmeat exporters. The National Farmers Federation has made the very important and relevant point that, when many farmers are doing it tough and in some regions managing consecutive years of drought, the agreement with Indonesia ensures there are valuable export markets in place ready for our agricultural goods to take advantage of when the drought breaks and productivity is once again on the rise.
The benefits of these agreements are not just for big business; they benefit every Australian. Under the Morrison-McCormack government, record numbers of SME exporters are taking advantage of the agreements we have concluded.