Interview with Gareth Parker, Breakfast, 6PR

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: Australia-UK free trade agreement; AdBlue shortage.
17 December 2021

GARETH PARKER: Joining me is the Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan. Minister, good morning.

DAN TEHAN: Gareth, pleasure to be with you and literally just a few minutes ago we signed it. So we did it virtually with Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the British Trade Minister. So it’s done and dusted. It’s been signed by both countries.

GARETH PARKER: There you go.

DAN TEHAN: So the historic moment has occurred.

GARETH PARKER: I was going to say, perhaps the ink not yet dry, but if it’s virtual, I guess we’ll have to choose our own digital analogy.

DAN TEHAN: No, you’ll be surprised. So what we did – and this is great teams on both ends – we did some signing yesterday. It was then – well, not faxed but it was digitally scanned, sent to the UK, they did the same here. So we actually did physically sign it with ink at both ends given the work that you can now do with technology.

GARETH PARKER: Righto. So, look, I gave some of the headline numbers just before. What does it mean, though? And perhaps we can talk about it from a couple of angles. Can we start with farmers? What does it mean for farmers?

DAN TEHAN: Well, what it means is they get access to a market of 65 million people that they didn’t have access to previously or had very limited access to. So when it comes to our beef producers, they can all of a sudden get access to the UK market at very significant levels and ultimately can sell in there as much as they want when they want to. Great outcomes for our grain growers, great outcomes for our sheep meat producers, great outcome for our wine. There’s immediately $45 million in duties which come off Australian wine, and the UK is our biggest market for wine at the moment.

For young people it’s a great initiative because if you want to travel to the UK to work you can now do that up to the age of 35 and you can do it for three years. And the same is for young Brits – they can now come here up to the age of 35 and work for three years. It really just brings the United Kingdom and Australia closer together and makes up for the wrong that was committed in my view, strong view, when the UK turned to the European Union in 1975 and really cut Australian farmers and others away from their market. And we’re back now. We’re back, and this will create jobs, it will create investment and really help the two economies in both countries.

GARETH PARKER: The $200 million reduction in the price of British imports, can you give me just a bit more insight into that. I mean, what are people – I mean, I can think of, you know, especially foods like Penguin biscuits, which we talked about earlier on the program this year after Boris and Scott Morrison did the Penguin-Tim Tam thing.

DAN TEHAN: They did. And if you’ve ever had a Penguin, I tell you, we’ve got the better deal there because Tim Tams are far superior. So what it means is, in particular, the British are very good at manufacturing cars. So cars will come into this country cheaper. So that’s fantastic. They’re also very good producers of whiskey, so we’ll get British whiskey in at cheaper rates. We get access to their government procurement markets. So our businesses can actually apply to provide services to the British government and vice versa – British businesses will be able to apply to provide services to us here in Australia.

When it comes to our professions, it’s much easier for exchange, whether it be those in the medical professions, in the legal professions, accounting services, other professional services, people can come and go between our two countries much more readily. The only country that we will have closer economic relationships – a closer economic relationship with is New Zealand. Outside of that this binds our two countries together like they haven’t been down before.

GARETH PARKER: Minister, with your trade hat on also, David, our earlier caller, just reported that AdBlue, which was a dollar a litre a couple of weeks ago is now $3 a litre. Do you know, where’s this heading?

DAN TEHAN: So what the Australian government has done is we’ve set up a task force. It’s being headed by Angus Taylor, and I am working very closely with Angus. We’ve already procured we think extra AdBlue from Indonesia. I spoke with the Indonesian Trade Minister last week. We’re also dealing with the Saudi Arabians, the Qataris, United Arab Emirates and Japan to source more. And plus Angus is looking at what we can do to boost domestic manufacturing here of AdBlue. And we’ll have more to say on that over the coming days.

So we understand that this is an issue that needs addressing. We estimate that we’ve got about five to seven weeks of supply, which is roughly the sort of normal supplies which are held. It might get out to 10 to 12 weeks. But with the disruption in the supply chain we’ve got to do more, and so we’re looking at domestic production and we’re importing more from overseas to address the current issues.

GARETH PARKER: Dan Tehan, thanks for your time this morning. I appreciate it.

DAN TEHAN: Good on you, Gareth. And merry Christmas to you and all your listeners. It’s always a pleasure to join you.

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