Interview with Steve Price, Australia Today

  • Transcript
Subjects: UK FTA, the return of tourism, cruise industry.
17 December 2021

Steve Price: Dan Tehan, our trade and tourism Minister, has finally managed to get over the line a free trade agreement between us and Britain. He's on the line, Minister, thanks for your time.

Dan Tehan: A pleasure Steve. Great to be with you.

Steve Price: Big deal.

Dan Tehan: It is a big deal. It's the most comprehensive deal we've signed outside of the agreement we have with New Zealand. It's been done in record time. No agreement has been signed as quickly as this one. So it's fantastic, it is comprehensive, demonstrates to the world that countries can make sure that they practise what they preach when it comes to free trade, for creating jobs in their countries. And what we've done with the UK is truly historic.

Steve Price: Most comprehensive one ever, isn't it? Most comprehensive deal ever.

Dan Tehan: That's right outside of what we have with New Zealand, where there is not really a cigarette papers difference between us and New Zealand. And this is nearly as comprehensive with the UK and wonderful in terms of mobility. Young Australians can travel to the UK now up to 35 and work for three years. Our professions will be able to move between the UK and Australia. And of course, it's wonderful for our farmers because they've got extraordinary access now into a market of 65 million customers.

Steve Price: I'm 30 years too old for the working visa, sadly, but that five-year extension. That's pretty important. That's a great thing to be able to go and work for three years either way. So that will help us out, will it not? And I reckon there'll be a bit of a battle on to try and top up our workforce shortages. We're currently experiencing, Dan.

Dan Tehan: Absolutely no question about it. And we'll be encouraging all those young Brits to come down here and work as part of this new agreement. And that's how we're going to deal with these workforce shortages. We've got to make sure we can get the skills into our country to make sure that we continue to create jobs at record numbers here in Australia. And that unemployment figure with a 4 in front of it is also historic and something that we must keep going.

Steve Price: Give us some specifics. I know we can talk wine in a moment, but if I'm a lamb or a beef producer or a dairy producer, what am I going to be able to send there that has had tariffs on it before, that's going to make me more money as an exporter.

Dan Tehan: So when it comes to beef, whether it be steak or other cuts, we can now will be able to send 35,000 tonnes when it comes into force to the UK and that grows to 110,000 tonnes before we go to completely free trade. So substantial increase in the amount of meat beef that we can send to the UK. When it comes to our sheep meat, our chops and lamb roast, we'll be able to send 25,000 tonnes to start with, and that grows to 75,000 tonnes in year ten. Just to give you a sense of that total UK imports of sheep meat of just over 100,000 tonnes. So we have got substantial increase in the amount of beef and sheep meat that we can send to the UK. And we were doing that previously, before 1975 when the UK went to the EU all that stopped and this kicks in again. And sugar 80,000 tonnes of sugar will now go to the UK and that grows to 220,000 tonnes. So that means that Tate and Lyle, who used to take Australian sugar, will be welcoming back boats straight from Australia. It will sail up the Thames to their factory in London, and they'll be using Australian sugars in making Maple syrup and other things which they sell, not only the UK, but to the world.

Steve Price: The Brit's love our wine, particularly our cheaper wine that you consume every day at home. They've been bashed up by the Chinese. Are we going to get more wine into the UK?

Dan Tehan: We will. So the tariff gets removed immediately on entry into force. And that's the equivalent of $43 million in annual customs duties, which is immediately removed from Australian wine going into the UK. And we've already seen an increase of nearly between 30% to 40% of Australian wine sales to the UK in the last twelve months. This will just add to that so wonderful news for our Australian wine growers, who have been really hard hit by the trade dispute that we've got with China.

Steve Price: When do you put pen to paper?

Dan Tehan: So we're putting pen to paper this morning. So it happens this morning. We're doing it at 9:30 Adelaide time and so quite historic, especially when you think of what happened all those years ago in 1975, when the UK turned to the European Union and left, especially our farmers are hunting for new markets. Now, their resilience knew no bounds. And obviously, we went into Asia. But to be able to write that wrong that occurred in 1975 is something that is truly historic for both nations.

Steve Price: Adelaide time, at the test match, you're going to sign the Free Trade agreement at the Adelaide Oval, Dan.

Dan Tehan: Well, we're at the convention centre, which overlooks the Adelaide Oval. Obviously, there's another great event which takes place between our two nations and has been going on for over 100 years as well. So it's a lovely backdrop to what is a historic partnership that UK and Australia will be signing today.

Steve Price: You better talk to Steve Smith and tell him to ease up a bit. If we built the Poms too much more, they might say they don’t want to sign the agreement.

Dan Tehan: I'm sure it'll be an Ashes test series like all of them that ebbs and flows, so I don't think they'll be taking anything for granted again today.

Steve Price: Just finally, as tourism Minister, when will we see? When do you hope we'll see the readmission of foreign tourists into Australia?

Dan Tehan: Well, obviously, great news this week where we've got Japan and South Korea tourists welcomed back. That was on Wednesday. They joined Singaporeans and obviously New Zealanders. So we'll continue to look for opportunities. I've said publicly before North America and Europe and the UK are very much next on the list with the Pacific. So we'll continue to monitor what's happening with Omicron. But my hope is we will be able to continue to open up because our vaccination rates are extraordinary here in this nation. Over 99% of those over 70, and they are fully double-vaxxed, over 50s it's over 94% double vaxxed. So the Australians have done the work and we've just got to make sure we keep going getting on with the opening and international students working, holidaymakers, visa holders and other workforce visa holders welcomed back on Wednesday. So we're making really good progress and I'll be making sure I'm doing everything we can to see that continue.

Steve Price: Cruise industry wants you to allow cruising around Australia, not to other countries. They're putting some pressure on. Are you going to look at that?

Dan Tehan: Absolutely. I'm very keen to look at that. Cruising is occurring in about 75 countries already. We've had cruising occurring here in Australia for boats that take 100 or less passengers and very keen to work with States and territories to make sure that we can open up the cruising once again because incredibly important for our tourism.

Steve Price: Good on you. Thanks for joining us. Appreciate your time.

Dan Tehan: No worries

Steve Price: Dan Tehan, trade, and tourism minister.

ENDS

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