Interview with Neil Breen, The Neil Breen Breakfast Show

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

NEIL BREEN: Today, the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Dan Tehan will sign the Australia-UK free trade deal during a virtual ceremony with the UK Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan in Adelaide. That'll happen today. There were five rounds of negotiations between delegates over the course of a year before the in principle agreement was reached in June. Minister, good morning.

DAN TEHAN: Good morning. How are you?

NEIL BREEN: Well, thank you. What are the top lines here? What will most benefit Queenslanders?

DAN TEHAN: Well, your sugar growers get immediate access to the UK market, something that they lost in 1975. So, we will see boats going from Queensland across the UK up the Thames to Tate & Lyle, where the sugar will be offloaded, made into maple syrup and exported around the world and also obviously consumed in the UK. Young Queenslanders up to 35 years of age will now be able to travel to the United Kingdom and work for three years. People from the - young Brits will be able to come to Queensland also to work and work for three years. For your beef producers, 35,000 tonnes access immediately, and that grows to 110,000 tonnes after ten years and then it goes to free trade. For sheep meat producers, dairy producers, for our rice growers they also get very good access to this market. So, it's wonderful news for Australia, and it's wonderful news for the United Kingdom because this will benefit both nations greatly.

NEIL BREEN: I just want to go back to what you said there about the working holidays for young Australians in the UK able to do that for three years now. And also, the top age limit has been raised from 30 to 35 I think.

DAN TEHAN: That's correct, That's correct. So, you can now go and do those three years up until 35 years of age. So, it's fantastic because you can start your career now and then if you want to, want to change, you can go and work in the United Kingdom for three years, then come back and vice versa for those young Brits. So, this was one of the really important things in the agreement.

NEIL BREEN: And that's, it’s excellent news for anyone who was, let's say, 28 years of age two years ago and was planning to go to the UK and then COVID hit of course. And they've just lost those two years.

DAN TEHAN: Absolutely lost those two years, haven't been able to travel. And now as we open up and as the United Kingdom opens up, those opportunities will present themselves again. So that will be just a wonderful opportunity. As someone who's been to the United Kingdom and studied there and worked, it's just a wonderful thing to do as part of growing up. So these are all the important things that will make sure that we continue to modernise those historical ties that run so deep between the United Kingdom and Australia.

NEIL BREEN: I'm not sure this is exactly in your portfolio, but we've all missed out on travelling for two years. Any chance that we can get a two-year extension on our passport at no extra cost? A few people have been suggesting that mightn’t be a bad election promise for one of the parties.

DAN TEHAN: Look that is in the portfolio responsibilities of my counterpart, Marise Payne, the Foreign Affairs Minister. I'm sure she'd be happy to answer that question, but I think I'd get in a lot of trouble if I attempt to.

NEIL BREEN: Well, feel free to put the idea in front of her anyway. You can have that idea for free, get in before Labor gets it with that as an election promise. Is there any-

DAN TEHAN: One thing I will say, though, as Australia's Tourism Minister, we do want to be doing everything we can to get international tourists back to Queensland. And obviously, we're working very hard to do that with the Queensland state government because the tourism sector in Queensland is so vitally important to the economy. And so we are working as hard as we can to welcome back those international tourists.

NEIL BREEN: Just quickly, anything we didn't get that you were hoping for?

DAN TEHAN: The great thing about this agreement is it's the most comprehensive agreement that we've done outside of the agreement we've got with New Zealand. So, we've pretty much got everything we wanted. The key now is to make sure that everyone understands it, uses everything that it has to offer and that some of those behind the border barriers we can now begin to work on. But this is the most comprehensive free trade agreement that we've done in over 40 years. It's a terrific outcome for Australia. It's a terrific outcome for the United Kingdom. I got to say, I couldn't be happier, and I know my counterpart will have a big smile on her face today, too.

NEIL BREEN: Thanks for coming on 4BC breakfast this morning.

DAN TEHAN: Pleasure.

NEIL BREEN: Dan Tehan Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister.

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