Interview with Peta Credlin, Sky News Live

  • Transcript
Subjects: Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement
16 June 2021

Peta Credlin: Let's not keep the Minister waiting, he's on standby and he's the man of the hour after the big deal was done last night in principle, Australia and the UK. The biggest deal that Britain's done. The first deal they've done since leaving the European Union and it'll see up to 99 per cent of Australian goods enter the UK duty free, with greater flexibility for our professionals and, obviously, working holiday makers. The wonderful Dan Tehan – I bet he's exhausted – Trade Minister, joins me now from Canberra. Well done you. This is a very, very comprehensive and ambitious agreement Dan Tehan. I know you came into politics out of the Trade portfolio and, I tell you, it shows because we did some deals at the start of the Coalition period, a bit of an interregnum and now you're starting to bring it all home. You're from an agricultural area in the western districts of Victoria. Give me a sense of the scale of this deal.

Dan Tehan: Well, Peta, it's the most comprehensive free trade agreement that we've done outside of the one that we have with New Zealand. It's a gold standard agreement and the incredibly important part about this, it covers investment services, government procurement, but it also captures all aspects of our agriculture sector. So, we get great outcomes for rice, for sugar, for dairy, for sheep meat, lamb and beef, which is wonderful for all the farmers, especially the farmers in the great electorate of Wannon. So, it's a huge achievement. I congratulate the PM, his ability to nail the deal when he was over there with the UK PM was outstanding, and all the work done by our chief negotiator Elisabeth Bowes and her team. Fantastic team effort and a great outcome for Australia and Britain, and cements the economic relationship into the future, and makes up for that travesty that happened 50 years ago when the UK turned its back on us and pointed itself towards the EU.

Credlin: Yeah, I don't think it's the only time in our history where the UK has done the wrong thing by Australia. But let's go to the agricultural issues, because I'm told that they were sticking points towards the end. Where did we land? Because we're not going to sell big volumes of our produce, given the distance, are we, into this market? it will be more the high-end stuff for our farmers.

Tehan: Absolutely, it's the high-end, quality produce that will go into the UK market and, for instance, for beef automatically we get 35,000 kilotonnes of beef into the UK market in year one. When it comes to sheep meat or lamb, it's 25,000 kilotonnes into the market. Sugar, immediately we get 80,000 kilotonnes of sugar into the UK market, and that grows by 20 kilotonnes a year and tariffs eliminated completely after eight years. Rice, we get immediate access, tariff free for rice into the UK market and dairy, we get a very good quota for our cheese, a quota for all the other products outside cheese, plus total elimination in five years. So comprehensive outcomes right across agriculture and, of course, when it comes to wine, immediate tariff reductions for all our wine going into the UK. So, you know, gold standard agreement, I think UK farmers have also done very well, this especially as it paves the way for them into CPTPP and opening really big new markets for them. So a win-win.

Credlin: Yeah, well, the Brits love a curry so the rice component there is good, the wine's good because that's been displaced, as you know, at China. I want to play a grab, potentially slip of the tongue, perhaps something more, Boris Johnson on climate commitments in the discussions last night. Have a listen.


Boris Johnson: On the climate change ambitions of Australia, I think that Scott has declared for net zero by 2050.

Off camera: Preferably.

Johnson: Which is a great step forward when you consider the, you know, the situation Australia is in. It's a massive coal producer. It's having to change the way things are orientated and everybody understands that.

[End of excerpt]

Credlin: Alright Minister, were we forced to secretly commit to net zero to get this over the line?

Tehan: No, absolutely not, and you heard our Prime Minister come in with the word ‘preferably' there. There's an environmental chapter in this agreement. It commits to international cooperation. It commits to us honouring our multilateral environmental agreements, which we do in this country, as you know, Peta. We met our Kyoto targets. We're meeting Paris our targets. That's it.

Credlin: Alright, I'm going to have to leave you there, Minister, but you won't mind because I'm going to head to Paris and talk to your boss, but well done and thank you for your time.

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