I rise to speak on the Customs Amendment (China-Australia Free Trade Agreement Implementation) Bill 2015 and cognate bill. Entering the chamber at the moment is no less than the Minister for Trade and Investment, Mr Robb, who negotiated the free trade agreements. If I could just acknowledge his contribution and associate myself with the many compliments to Mr Robb that have flown freely from members of this side of the House for his contribution.
I saw a recent article stating that, given his achievements, if Minister Robb were an athlete he would have won gold for Australia in the 100 metres and then the 200 metes, the 400 metes and the 800 metres, which would be a magnificent athletic feat in an Olympic arena, and his efforts are no less of an accomplishment. All acknowledgements should go to you for what has evaded so many governments before ours. Congratulations to you, Minister Robb, as you enter the chamber to deliver your wrap-up on this significant bill.
The IMF recently has put out some global growth forecasts, and I think there have been 15 downgrades of growth forecasts. We are looking closer to two per cent over the forward estimates. But the constant in their formulaic equation is that the world needs growth, and the majority of that growth is going to be driven from China. So it should not be surprising to anyone that a country like Australia would be looking for closer ties with such an economic powerhouse, which is widely tipped to take over from superpower America. It is not a matter of if; it is a matter of when. All international commentators are united in the position that China is a growing powerhouse.
I associate myself also with the comments of the previous speaker, who spoke about where the next opportunity lies after China, that being India. I suggest that that is a real opportunity for our country.
In having a look at why it took so long for the government to get this deal across the table, looking at the Australian Labor Party and their relationship with the Australian union movement from afar it perplexingly looks like the two are so desperately interwoven that the two are now indistinguishable from one another. With an agreement like this, with so many up-sides for my electorate and for the beef and dairy sectors—which I want to get back to before I conclude—we wonder why the Australian Labor Party, coupled with the Australian union movement, which ran a national ad campaign, wanted desperately for this free trade agreement to be stopped. You can only make the assumption that is not that dissimilar to the assumptions that have been made in the current royal commission on union corruption, union coercion, union thuggery, and union intimidation. These are the tools of trade of these two parties. They are now interwoven and inseparable from each other, so we should not be surprised that we saw a Labor anti-fair-trade agreement which used the tools of coercion, intimidation, bullying and scare tactics.
Closer to my electorate of Wright, the Stanbroke pastoral company have their processing plant in the Lockyer Valley. They are outstanding performers. They stand to benefit personally, as do the workers of that company, as a result of this free trade agreement. Tariffs of between 12 and 25 per cent will be eliminated within nine years, including the elimination of the 12 per cent tariff on beef offal within four to seven years. You might think, 'Beef offal—so what?' but that is up to 25 per cent of the beef carcass. China's demand for high-quality beef is growing rapidly, driven by a growing middle class. The Stanbroke pastoral company, based in the Lockyer Valley, are currently sending boxed meats to China. This agreement will only boost their ability to expand the export of beef into China.
I want to touch briefly on our emerging dairy industry as well, with the benefits that will flow through to my dairy farmers as a result of the reduction in tariffs around infant formula, fresh milk, ice cream, liquid milk, cheeses, butters and yoghurts within nine years. Mind you, we lag behind New Zealand in these negotiations. We would not be in this position if those on the other side of the House, when in government, were more proactive in this area. It makes my opening comments to Minister Robb all the more heartfelt. I have some of the largest horticultural growers in the country in my electorate. They, too, will stand to benefit from this trade negotiation—farmers like Matt Hood of Rugby Farm, Fabian Carnell of Mulgowie, Robert Hinrichsen and family, and Richard Gorman of Kalfresh. Their tentacles already extend into the Asian market. As we work through the bio-sanitary issues around product trade, it will only provide greater certainty for small businesses and farmers alike in my electorate of Wright.
There is much more I could say about the free trade agreement in the time that has been extended to me, but I close by encouraging all of my farmers and all those in the electorate of Wright to take advantage of the opportunities that have been presented as a result of these wonderful negotiations. I commend the bill to the House.