Interview with Gareth Parker, 6PR

  • Transcript
Subjects: Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement, possible FTA with other nations
16 June 2021

Gareth Parker: On the line the Federal Trade Minister, Dan Tehan. Minister, good morning.

Dan Tehan: Gareth. Pleasure to be with you.

Parker: What does this deal mean?

Tehan: What it means is that we will be able to improve the economic relationship that we have with the United Kingdom, to enhance it and make it even stronger. And really, right or wrong, that was done especially to Australian farmers over 50 years ago when the United Kingdom turned towards the European Union and left us, in many ways, stranded and having to look for new markets. And so, this is an historic deal. It rights that wrong. I know farmers across Australia have big smiles on their faces this morning. But also it's great for Australian consumers, it's great for UK consumers, and also very good for British farmers. So it's a win-win. And as the PM from Britain said, it means that we'll be able to get to them more Tim Tams and more Penguins for us, which is fantastic. I've got a real sweet tooth and I want to try these Penguins...

Parker: [Talks over] What is it? Do you know what it is?

Tehan: It's some sort of biscuit, but no, I haven't. But I'm very curious. And as someone who loves biscuits, I can't wait to try a Penguin.

Parker: Tehan biscuit diplomacy. Who will be the biggest winners from the Australian point of view? You said farmers. I know that Australian beef and cattle farmers, for example, have for many, many years wanted to access British markets. And there's always been this sort of scare from the British end that Australian beef has got sort of these terrible diseases that will ruin their lives, which has always been a bit odd. But who'll be the big winners?

Tehan: Look, our farmers are big winners, but people who- our accountants, our lawyers and others in the professional services will be able to travel to the UK to work over there. So, we'll get exchange of people happening. Young Australians will be able to travel to the UK up to the age of 35 to work for three years. There's wins in the areas around government procurement, investment flows become easier. So, that creates more jobs here in Australia and in Britain—so wins right across the board. But two in particular, for our winegrowers, it's a fantastic outcome, and also for our sugar growers. Often the sugar growers miss out in these free trade agreements, but they haven't in this one, so it's a great win for them.

Parker: What about from the Australian householder's point of view, you know, ordinary people as they're going about their business, what are we going to get access to from the UK that will be cheaper and more accessible?

Tehan: Well, you'll get access to cheaper cars. You'll get access to cheaper whisky. You'll get access to cheaper produce from the UK, cheaper products from the UK. So, for the Australian consumer, you'll get access to really good quality British goods at a cheaper rate, which is what we want. They won't be taxed like they were before. So, for our consumers, if you might like a bit of British cheese, that'll come in cheaper. So, there's many ways that the Australian consumer benefits as well.

Parker: What's next in terms of free trade agreements? It has been reported that you are planning a trip to Indonesia shortly, and there is some concern that perhaps Indonesia might be tending towards China in terms of trade and other diplomatic arrangements. What can you tell us about that?

Tehan: So, in terms of next agreements, the EU is the agreement that we're really seeking. We've done 11 rounds of negotiations with the EU. As a matter of fact, we've just concluded those 11 round, that was taking place while we were finalising this new UK Agreement in Principle. So, that's where the focus is at the moment. In terms of Indonesia, I will be looking to travel there in the coming weeks, obviously, it's incredibly close relationship — going to other countries in ASEAN as well, also looking at Japan, South Korea and potentially the US. So, all these countries are incredibly important to us and we want to make sure we continue to enhance our economic relationships with them. So, they're proposals that are in the offing at the moment.

Parker: Okay. Is there concern that the Chinese are trying to exert more influence in Indonesia, our nearest neighbour?

Tehan: Well, there is no doubt that we've seen a much more assertive approach to their engagement by the Chinese, in the region. And what that means is that we have to make sure that we continue to engage with the countries of Southeast Asia. It's got to make sure that we continue to engage with South Korea, with Japan, all the countries in the Indo-Pacific, India, and also seek those constructive engagements with China as well, and that's something that we continue to seek—is to see that we can have that constructive engagement because the economic relationship between Australia and China is incredibly important to both countries.

Parker: Minister, thanks very much for your time this morning.

Tehan: Pleasure.

Parker: Dan Tehan, the Federal Trade Minister, joining us live from our studios at Parliament House in Canberra.

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