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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 41646

Visit to iSimulate with the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment and the Assistant Minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation

Photo of Turnbull, Malcolm

Turnbull, Malcolm

Period of Service: 15/09/2015 to 24/08/2018

More information about Turnbull, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 23/05/2018

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 41646

Subject(s): Free trade deal with the EU, 2018 Federal Budget, parliamentary privilege and relationship with China

Location: Canberra


Fantastic, well welcome here to Canberra. Great to have you here on a beautiful Canberra morning.

Thank you to Peter McKie for hosting us here at his businesses iSimulate, which is a great Canberra business, a great Australian business doing wonderful things. A small business growing into medium business and we hope into a large business.

So it’s great to have the Prime Minister here, great to have the Trade Minister here to talk about these important things. So I’ll hand over to the PM.


Well thank you Zed and it is great to be here with you and Steve, and Peter thank you so much for everything you’re doing here at iSimulate. I mean you’re helping people around the world to save lives. This is a business that is what, six year sold? Six years old, it’s an Australian innovation technology business, started off as very small business, it’s still growing. It’s benefiting from our company tax relief.

I might say, it’s a company Peter, if Bill Shorten were ever to be Prime Minister, he would put your taxes up. So, this is a business that's accelerating. Labor, if they ever got into government, would put the brakes on it. Think about that. They'd do that to thousands of other businesses, reducing investment, reducing economic growth and obviously reducing jobs and wages.

But what we’ve got here is a business - an Australian technology business - that's exporting to the world. We want to throw open the doors wider, to more markets and the biggest single economic market in the world is of course, the European Union. As you know, last night, thanks to a lot of hard work especially by the Trade Minister, who will speak to us in a moment, the European Union has agreed to a mandate to negotiate a free trade agreement with Australia and negotiations will commence shortly.

This is so important; trade means jobs.

Free trade and open markets are delivering thousands of jobs in Australia.

It's one of the reasons why we have the strongest jobs growth in our history. Last year in 2017, 415,000 jobs created. Its why, since the Coalition came into government in 2013, we've seen 1,013,600 new jobs created.

So, wherever there are opportunities in the world for Australian businesses to export - whether it is raw materials, whether it is food, whether it is wine, whether it is agricultural products, whether it is services, whether it is technology - we want to create more opportunities and we’re doing that.

We've delivered free trade agreements in Japan, Korea and China.

We signed up with the Trans-Pacific Partnership 11, a huge 11 nation Free Trade Agreement. We've got a new Free Trade Agreement with Peru, we’re in advanced negotiations with Indonesia. Now, we’re starting on the path to negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union.

I want to say, the path to reaching a Free Trade Agreement is often long, it’s invariably long actually, it is always laborious and it has twists and turns. Sometimes you feel you’re accelerating and sometimes you think you’re not going very quickly at all.

But the most important thing is persistence and determination, and the determination always to stand up for Australian jobs. And that's what we’re doing and they’re the jobs, they’re the workers that Bill Shorten has abandoned, by the way he wants to put up taxes on Australian business and has abandoned a commitment to free trade.

Never forget that it was Bill Shorten who said I was “deluded” in pressing on with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and I should “give it up”. He said it was dead. Well, in 11 nations have agreed. A huge achievement. A multilateral agreement in these times where protectionism has some support in some parts of the world, we’re able to agree that.

That's what determination, that's what persistence, that's what constantly standing up for Australian workers delivers. More opportunities, more jobs, including for a great business like this, headed to even greater things.

Thank you, Peter, for hosting us here at iSimulate and showing us your remarkable technology.

I’ll now ask Steven to say some more about the EU Free Trade Agreement negotiation to come.


Thanks Prime Minister.

Well, great news overnight. We’ve got the European Union ready to commence negotiations after securing a negotiating mandate for an FTA, a Free Trade Deal with Australia.

Now this is great news because it means more trade for Australia. More trade for Australia means more economic growth and more economic growth means more jobs.

I outlined that about one in five jobs is in trade-exposed industries. In other words, as the Coalition has delivered these free trade agreements; agreements with the north-Asian powerhouse economies of China, Japan and Korea. We’ve got one with Singapore, we’ve got the TPP-11, including new FTAs with major markets like Mexico, as well as Canada. The work we’re doing now with Indonesia and what we’re shortly about to commence with the European Union.

It all spells opportunity for Australian exporters to get out there, give it their best shot, grow their exports, grow our economy and most importantly, grow jobs.

That is the root reason why, as a Coalition, we are so committed to growing new markets for Australian exporters, because new markets means more jobs.

So, this new negotiating mandate for the European Union, to negotiate with Australia, will deliver us an opportunity. I’m certainly going to throw my weight behind it, make sure we can negotiate a high quality, comprehensive free trade deal with the European Union in as quick a time as possible. But we also want to make sure that it is a comprehensive deal because ultimately that is our commitment to the Australian people; to deliver on job opportunities and export opportunities.


Very good, thank you. Any questions?


Prime Minister, how big potentially, could this deal be? How quickly could it be done? And you talk about protectionism being the flavor of the month in some parts of the world, France is one of those places, the French President Emmanuel Macron said he’d been given assurances that the common agricultural policy wouldn’t be impacted by a trade deal. Does that mean Australian farmers will again be sort of left out of the single market, if a deal is done with Europe?


Well, we actually import more agricultural produce, products, food products, from Europe than we export to Europe, which tells you a lot about how relatively little access Australian farmers have to Europe. So, there is a huge amount of scope for more Australian access to the European market.

I have to differ with you about President Macron. He threw his weight behind this EU-Australia Free Trade Agreement, I want to thank him, and of course other European leaders including Chancellor Merkel, for their support in ensuring that this negotiation gets underway. 


Prime Minister, last night one of your backbenchers used parliamentary privilege to name a Chinese businessman – also a political donor – as a co-conspirator to bribing a senior UN official.

First of all, did you know that Andrew Hastie was going to do that last night, and secondly do you agree with his comments that the these sort of things should be publicised? They should be put out there in the media, rather than being hidden behind defamation action, which has had a - as he described - a chilling effect on democracy?


Well, the first I learned of Mr Hastie's remarks was of course after he’d given them, so that’s the answer to your question there, I had no forewarning of it.

Secondly, members of Parliament have - it's a very ancient right, hard-won - the right to speak on matters under parliamentary privilege and Members have to explain why they do that in circumstances like this.

As far as the specific allegations that were made, they are not new. They are in fact the subject of litigation currently in the Australian courts, and for that reason, I don't propose to say any more about them.


Do you think that - the Chinese Foreign Ministry yesterday put out a statement after the Foreign Minister had met with Julie Bishop and said that “Australia needs to remove its coloured glasses”, I believe was the exact phrase that they used, when looking at the relationship between Australia and China.

Do you think that it's fair for the Chinese government to continually criticise Australia and the Australian media for reporting on some sort of basic developments, such as what’s happening in the South China Sea? And then criticise that as damaging our relationship, when it is something that is happening all that time, and it should be put out in there in the public domain.


Well, the Chinese Foreign Ministry is entitled to make such statements as it wishes. But we have a strong relationship, it's a frank one.

Julie had a good meeting with her counterpart in Buenos Aires. We have - trade is growing, we have a good, frank relationship with China. It's a very strong one, and I just want to say that, to remember, that we talk about economics, and we talk about diplomacy a lot, naturally, we are in Canberra. But just remember this: you could not imagine modern Australia without the 1.2 million Australians of Chinese heritage - remember that.

We are the most successful multicultural nation in the world. China and Australia are in every respect closer than ever, and we should never underestimate the importance of that family connection. So, as I said there's 1.2 million Australians of Chinese heritage, and two of them are grandchildren of Lucy and me.


But Prime Minister, how can we have a conducive relationship if every time the Australian media writes something, China is threatened by that?


I don't accept the premise of your question. We have a free media, we have a vibrant media, dare I say it. You’re all looking very vibrant this morning, I might add.


Early on a chilly Canberra morning.

And that's the nature of our democracy and everyone around the world understands that. And we have, you know, a vibrant Parliamentary democracy where people give speeches and, you know, have robust debates, not least at Question Time, of course.


Sorry, just to follow up on trade, how big will this deal potentially be and how quickly can it be done? And just following on Macron’s comments when he was in Sydney he said that he’d been given assurances that French farmers wouldn't be impacted by this deal. Can you just elaborate what he meant by that?


Look, I’ll ask Steven to talk about the scale of the opportunity, but the reality is that with more trade between Australia and Europe, there are opportunities for European farmers and Australian farmers. There’s the opportunity for co-investment in agriculture. Trade creates jobs and it creates jobs everywhere. It’s not a zero-sum game.

Greater trade between Australia and Europe will create more jobs in Australia and it will create more jobs in Europe. It is not a zero-sum game. What we do is we work together, we open up more opportunities. And the proof is there, I am not theorising, we know this works.

This is a key to my government's economic plan - free trade, free trade agreements, open markets delivers more jobs and we have the proof. We have 1,013,600 jobs since we came into office in 2013 and a very big part of that is our free trade agenda. Which I must remind you, Bill Shorten has opposed, resisted, criticised, dismissed as "delusional" from one time or another. There is no enthusiasm for tree trade on the Labor side, yet free trade is the key to jobs and that’s what we have delivered.

I’ll ask Steven to talk about the scale of the opportunity.


Thanks PM.

Well these export trade deals are critical to driving Australia's economy and critical to growing Australian jobs. In terms of the European Union we’ve got to do this as quickly as we practically can. But what it is all about at its core is about getting a high quality trade deal. I’ve always said I won't sacrifice the quality of a trade deal for speed. It is about getting a good-quality trade deal. Let's be clear, a good-quality trade deal with Europe will include enhanced agricultural access for Australian agricultural exporters.

We currently export around $3.6 billion worth of agricultural exports. We import around $4.9 billion of imports from the EU. Now that’s got to change. 500 million people versus 24-25 million here in Australia. But that is only one fragment of our trade investment relationship with the European Union.

We have tremendous opportunity with the EU to do more in a range of areas.

Let's talk about the business that we’re in here. iSimulate in many respects exemplifies the kinds of new opportunities that Australian businesses will have. This is a value-add business. It’s a business that has been growing rapidly. It will continue to employ more Australians as it grows. And the consequence of all of these trade deals is about diversifying our interests abroad, but ultimately making sure we can create more employment here in Australia with businesses that are trading, ultimately because these trade deals, export trade deals, make them easier to continue to export.


Okay, well perhaps just one more.


Just one more question. You’ve mentioned that the first you heard of what Mr Hastie was saying after he said it in the Federation Chamber yesterday and you have spoken of the right of politicians to have their say in Parliament. But do you think it was wise for Mr Hastie to stand up and make that speech? Or are you disappointed that he did so?


Look, I am not going to comment on a Member of Parliament using their right, as I said - it is a right that is hard won. It is a fundamental part of our parliamentary democracy. He made that speech. He explained why he made it.

Again, as I said earlier, the allegations are not new. In fact, they’re very - they have been made elsewhere and they are the subject of legal proceedings and so I will not have any further to say on them.

Thank you very much.


Transcript 41646