Australian Coat of Arms

Member for Blaxland

Shadow Minister for Trade and Investment

Shadow Minister for Resources and Northern Australia 

Doorstop - Bankstown - Wednesday, 24 January 2018

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP
BANKSTOWN
WEDNESDAY, 24 JANUARY 2018

SUBJECTS: CPTPP, Shooting in Bankstown

CLARE: Overnight a new trade agreement, the CPTPP, was finalised in Japan. The next step is to get the details on what this trade agreement means for Australia. Australia is a trading nation. More trade means more jobs. About one in five Aussies work in a job that’s linked to trade and so naturally we are always going to support good, high quality trade agreements that create more Aussie jobs.

As a first step I’ve asked the Minister for Trade, Steve Ciobo, to provide myself and the Opposition with a briefing on this agreement. These agreements are negotiated in secret, we’ve just found out today that it’s been finalised overnight in Japan and now there is an opportunity for the Parliament and the Australian people to get the details of what’s in that agreement.

I have also made a suggestion to the Prime Minister – and that is that he should also ask for independent economic modelling of this agreement so he can tell the Australian people what it means for Australian jobs. How many jobs it will create, how many new businesses it will create, the industries and the parts of the economy that will benefit.

Labor has said that if we win the next election we will ensure that there is independent economic modelling of all trade agreements before they are signed. In an environment around the world where people are worried about what’s in these trade agreements for them, I think it is important for the government to be able to provide independent advice on what it means for the economy and what it means for Australian workers. So I hope the Prime Minister takes up that proposal.

This is a different agreement to the TPP that was signed in New Zealand two years ago. Principally because it doesn’t involve the United States. The United States represented 60 per cent of the combined economy of the original TPP. The original TPP was made up of countries that represented 40 per cent of the world economy. This is much smaller. This represents about 13 per cent of the world economy. It’s also struck out or suspended about 20 different clauses. It’s a different agreement.

I’ve said in the past that an agreement like this has merit. It will provide modest economic benefits for the Australian economy, that’s what the World Bank said about the original agreement. And also provide strategic benefits to set up a regional trade agreement that could potentially, one day include all the countries of the Asia Pacific. This is a different agreement. We don’t have the same sort of World Bank analysis of this agreement that we had with the last one. That’s why I said to Malcolm Turnbull it’s in his interest, it’s in the interests of the Australian people to make sure that there is independent  economic modelling of this new agreement so we know whether it is good for Australia. So we know whether it’s good for Australian jobs and so we know how many jobs it will create here in Australia.

Happy to take questions.     

JOURNALIST: Labor said last year that the TPP was dead and that the Government shouldn’t waste time trying to revive it. Were you too quick to abandon the TPP?

CLARE: We said the TPP that was signed in New Zealand was dead and we have been proven right. We said the TPP wouldn’t be signed up to by Donald Trump and we’ve been proven right. He ripped it up in the first week in office. Malcolm Turnbull said that he could get Donald Trump to change his mind. He was wrong about that. We also said that if a different agreement can be struck that doesn’t involve the United States then we are happy to look at it and judge it on its merits. That’s what this is. It’s a different agreement. It’s much smaller because it doesn’t involve America. But there are potential benefits here and we want to see the details.

REPORTER: So when will Labor decide whether or not it will back this new TPP?

CLARE: Well there is a process to go through. First the Government ratifies trade deals, not the Parliament. But legislation will probably be introduced into the Parliament for the Parliament to consider.

Step one is that the Joint Standing Committee On Treaties will look at this and prepare a report for the Parliament telling us whether it is a good deal and what the pros and cons of the deal are.

Second, if there’s legislation that needs to be introduced, then it will be considered by Shadow Cabinet and then considered by the Labor Caucus and then a decision will finally be made and be voted on in the Parliament.

But the bottom line is this – if this is a good deal, if it’s a good deal for Australia, if it’s a good deal for Australian workers, then of course we’ll be back it, but we need to see the detail.

These deals are negotiated in secret - they don’t need to be, there could be a lot more transparency so Australia knows what’s in these deals as they’re being negotiated. But at the moment, they’re negotiated in secret. It’s been finalised overnight in Japan, now we need to see the detail.

REPORTER: The farmers are saying they’re going to be some of the winners. What’s your understanding of the benefits it will bring to the average Australian?

CLARE: This is the question that we need the answer to. It’s what I’m asking the government to brief me on. It’s why I’m asking the Government to get independent economic analysis done, so Australians know what the real benefits of this deal will be. We don’t have those details yet, it’s just been finalised overnight. Now there is an opportunity before the legislation is introduced into the Parliament for the Government to get an organisation like the Productivity Commission, for example, to do some economic analysis of the deal and then be able to say to the Australian people these are the benefits. These are the industries that will benefit. These are the jobs that are being created. This is where the jobs will be created. But at the moment the Government can’t do that because it’s refusing to provide this independent advice.

REPORTER: So you think it’s crucial for this modelling to show what the effects are going to be?

CLARE: Well this is what happens in other parts of the world. Other countries do this. And we know that at the moment there are parts of the world, there are leaders around the world that are spruiking a protectionist mantra, and there are people that are sceptical about whether trade deals are just good for some parts of the economy and not others. For those people that are sceptical about trade, I think it incumbent upon us as political leaders to provide them with independent advice. You can’t just tell people “Look, it’s good, I told you so.” You should provide independent advice. You don’t buy a car without knowing what it’s worth. You don’t buy a house without knowing what it’s worth. We shouldn’t expect the Australian people to just trust us here. I think it’s a good idea and the Australian people will back us on this, that we should provide Parliament and the Australian people with some independent advice to tell us about the benefits of this deal are. If Labor’s elected, if Bill Shorten’s elected at the next election, then we’ll do this for every treaty. And I’d encourage Malcolm Turnbull – there’s no need to wait, you could this with this deal now.

REPORTER: The Government argues that modelling on trade deals is basically meaningless because it doesn’t capture the second round effects. Can you just explain why you think modelling is so crucial?

CLARE: If they think it’s meaningless, why do they do it on some deals and not others? If they think it’s meaningless, why did they back the World Bank analysis of the original TPP? If it’s meaningless, why do other countries do this? Why do any economic analysis at all? There are economic benefits that we need to understand from these agreements and then there are non-economic benefits. We need to know what it means strategically, for our position in the world. One of the important things of a deal like this potentially is that it helps to bring the countries of the Asia Pacific closer together. Creating trade rules of the road for the whole region. One of the weaknesses of this deal is it doesn’t include all the countries of the region. I’d like to see a deal where we’ve got China and the United States and India. None of those countries are involved in this, at least not at the moment.

But if we’re to ensure that we make the most of all of the opportunities that lie ahead with of the rise of Asia over the next few decades, then I think a trade agreement that involves all of those countries and Australia would help to make sure we have peace and security in our region and more trade happening between all of the countries in our region.

JOURNALIST: And just to clarify this – why do you think the modelling is so crucial?

CLARE: Because independent modelling like this helps to tell us what it’s going to mean for the Australian economy, what it’s going to mean for the average Australian worker. Which sectors of the economy are going to benefit. Where are the jobs going to be created – in agriculture, or mining, or services. All of that sort of information is important. We do modelling on lots of things and we should do it here as well.

But also there’s a political reason for this. There are people in our community who are sceptical about these deals and they’re not just going to accept the argument of the Labor Party or the Liberal Party or the National Party or the Greens on this – they want independent advice. And we should give it to them.

Can I just give one extra comment about the shooting that happened just around the corner yesterday afternoon. Can I pass on my condolences to the family and the friends of the man who was murdered yesterday afternoon. In broad daylight. The most brazen and heinous of crimes.

And can I ask anybody that was there that saw what happened or that has access to closed circuit television camera footage that can help police, to please talk to the cops and pass that information on. We’ve got to hunt down this killer. The police in Australia, the police in NSW, are first class and the police are going to do a great job but they need the help of everyone. They need the help of our community so can I ask anyone in the community who saw what happened, please talk to the police and help them to hunt down this killer.

ENDS

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