Second Reading - TPP Amendment

I rise to speak in support of this bill before the Senate, the Customs Amendment (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership Implementation) Bill 2018, and related legislation. It will enact the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that was signed in March, and it is the latest success in the coalition government's ambitious trade agenda. Following remarks in the other house from the Labor Party—which showed, at best, tepid support for the TPP-11—I am delighted to see that those opposite now are in support of these important bills today, and I commend them for it.

The coalition team consistently supports increased free trade agreements with our international partners. We're a team that recognises trade as a major economic driver for industry, particularly in my home state of Queensland. The confident trading approach taken by the coalition government will see our farmers and manufacturers more competitive in the Asia-Pacific region into the future. The TPP-11, which will enter into force before the end of this year, strengthens our existing free trade arrangements in the Asia-Pacific region. Parties to the agreement include Canada, Chile, Japan, Brunei, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam. The agreement will eliminate 98 per cent of tariffs on our exports in a marketplace consisting of over half a billion people and a combined GDP of $13.8 trillion. Last year nearly a quarter of all Australian exports went to TPP-11 countries. This deal will see preferential access to the additional markets of Canada and Mexico for the first time—the world's 11th and 15th largest economies, respectively. The modelling shows that the TPP-11 will see $15.5 billion, or a 0.5 per cent increase, in net annual benefits to our national income by 2030.

The passage of this bill into law is incredibly important for rural and regional Australian industry, especially for those who are already doing it tough in dealing with the difficult circumstances of the drought. The economic prosperity of communities throughout regional and rural Australia depends upon strong export markets. Farmers produce more than there is demand for in this country, and that's something on which they should be commended and supported. The increase in trade that the TPP-11 will deliver increases the wealth of our nation and concentrates that opportunity into the areas that are doing it tough, like rural and regional agricultural industries and the manufacturing sector.

As Australia is a net exporting country, greater access to the international market will not only benefit our farming communities but also enhance opportunities for our manufacturers. Across Australia, manufacturers of iron, steel, aluminium, paper and leather goods will benefit from the TPP-11. In Queensland, this extends to the agriculture, resources and coal industries. Let's not be mistaken: more trade means more Australian jobs, every day of the week. We are a trading nation, and the enactment of the most comprehensive trade deal ever negotiated will see more Australians employed directly and indirectly in the exporting, manufacturing and farming industries.

The TPP-11 is expected to reduce compliance costs for Australian exporters. I get pretty excited about a reduction in red tape, and that's something we will deliver with the TPP-11. Exporting to the various nations at present requires eight separate forms. That will now be streamlined to a single set of documents for our free trade agreement partners. The arrangements that are in place are even more complex for non-agreement partners, and anything we can do to make doing business simpler and easier for Australians in business is a good thing. Australians will also benefit from being able to self-certify the origin of their goods for export, unlike the current outgoing system, in which non-preferential certificates of origin had to be sought.

These are just some of the simple but practical ways in which the coalition government's ambitious and confident agreement with our international partners will achieve greater efficiency for Australian exporters. An example of the real benefits that this deal will provide is the advantage from which beef exporters from Australia will benefit within two years, when the tariffs they face will be 13 percentage points lower than those faced by their United States counterparts, one of our most significant competitors. Our manufacturers will benefit from the elimination of tariffs on industrial goods. Raw wool will see the immediate elimination of all remaining tariffs. There will be improved access to Japanese markets for our cereals and grains, including new quotas on barley. Mexican tariffs on wheat, currently sitting at 67 per cent, will be eliminated within 10 years—in addition to the elimination of the 115 per cent tariff currently on barley that goes into Mexico, which will be gone within five years. Dairy, pork, cotton, sugar and rice growers will also benefit from the TPP and similar measures. I could go on and on listing who and how this deal will benefit each of our rural and regional industries. Suffice to say that more products produced in Australia will have a market to go to with returns that will benefit Australians from coast to coast.

Given these significant benefits, it's really important that Australia implement the TPP-11 as soon as possible to ensure that we have a competitive advantage. The TPP-11 will enter into force 60 days after six member countries have ratified the agreement. Currently three countries—Mexico, Japan and Singapore—have ratified the agreement. A number of other countries, including New Zealand, Peru and Canada, have indicated that they will ratify the agreement in the coming months. If the TPP-11 were to enter into force this year without Australia having ratified it, our exporters would be placed at a significant competitive disadvantage. We would risk other countries having superior access to the beef, dairy, cheese and wine markets, for instance. That's why we need to move now to implement the TPP-11 and maximise the advantage we can gain for Australian exporters.

It's worth pausing to observe that the TPP-11 is an important example we can point to of this government demonstrating leadership when things look difficult. Reaching a deal for the TPP-11 was far from guaranteed. When the United States withdrew from the negotiation process early last year, the chances of securing the important agreement were far from certain. With no guarantee of success, this government nevertheless chose to stand firm and pursue the agreement rather than retreat or give up. And while the Leader of the Opposition in the other place preferred retreat—calling the deal 'dead', and labelling those on this side of the chamber 'delusional'—the government continued to advance Australia's agenda of free trade and open markets. I'm delighted to say that this government was successful in the process. In its dogged determination to secure more opportunities for Australian producers and manufacturers, it has delivered once more.

It's also regrettable that the actions of those who represent the Greens political party demonstrate that they don't understand the benefits of free trade to Australian industry and jobs. While the coalition government gets on with the job, the Greens' dissenting report to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee's inquiry into these bills now before the Senate details a striking ignorance about the benefits of free trade. It's rather curious that, in that dissenting report, they claim that the agricultural and manufacturing industries will be damaged by the TPP. The source for those concerns, a recent modelling report titled 'Australia will gain from continued Asia-Pacific trade integration', seems like an odd source for reaching that conclusion. While their dissenting report rejects passing these bills because of their impact on agricultural and manufacturing, we on this side of the chamber support passing the bills for that very reason. The impacts on these industries will be greater wealth, more jobs, more opportunity and more choice for our regional and remote communities. While we are strongly focused on creating greater export opportunities, the Greens seem to be more concerned about burdening our international markets with more and more tax-like effects. The government knows that Australia is an open-trading nation whose prosperity now and into the future depends upon our export markets and depends upon trade. For example, one in five Australian jobs relies on international trade, with that trade equating to 40 per cent of our GDP. It's no small measure. Today is a timely reminder of which parties are focused on delivering for Australia and which parties think that produce grows merely on the shelves of supermarkets.

The Liberal-National government has been focused on trade and creating more opportunities for Australia's farmers, families and businesses for every single day since its election in 2013. Five years ago, only 26 per cent of our goods-and-services trade received duty free or preferential access to overseas markets. During the time we have been in government this has substantially changed. We have concluded or updated seven free trade agreements, including with China, Korea, Indonesia and Japan, providing us with unprecedented access to overseas markets and bringing down prices for consumers. These agreements now account for nearly 70 per cent of our trade, with current negotiations potentially taking that figure up as far as 88 per cent. In 2017-18 Australia achieved record exports of $401 billion. Our global trade surplus was $6.3 billion. The TPP-11 continues on this work and is just another example of our tireless commitment to investment, jobs and trade.

The TPP-11 is truly a next-generation trade agreement and a significant moment for open markets, free trade and export opportunities for working Australians. The agreement will increase national income, remove tariffs, reduce red tape, and expand export access for Australian farmers and Australian manufacturers. It is for these, I suggest, very good reasons that I strongly support Australia's entry into the TPP-11 and, as a consequence, support the passage of these bills.