Interview with Tony Pilkington, FiveAA Adelaide
TONY PILKINGTON: Joining us on a really hot day here in Adelaide, he signed a thing about a half an hour or so ago down at the Entertainment Centre I think it was – I’m talking about the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment. Dan Tehan joins us right now.
DAN TEHAN : Yes, it’s great to be here on a lovely baking Adelaide day, and great to be here for an historic day.
TONY PILKINGTON: Now, tell us about this. This is a free trade agreement that you signed about a half an hour or so ago with the UK Secretary of State for International Trade and all the rest of it. Tell us exactly what’s involved.
DAN TEHAN : So what’s involved is that this is a truly great free trade agreement in that we get rid of all the tariffs between the United Kingdom and Australia. So it means that we’ll be able to trade freely between the two nations, which is absolutely fantastic. So, for instance, what it would mean for our wine producers –
TONY PILKINGTON: Yeah, that’s important to us here. Yeah, go on.
DAN TEHAN : It is. They have $45 million worth of duty that’s immediately removed off wine flowing from Australia into the UK. And we now send more wine to the UK than we do any other country across the world, and this will see that even grow further. So it’s good, practical things like that that this agreement leads to.
Same with very young people here in South Australia, under 35, who are thinking about travelling to the UK, they can now work for three years if they travel to the UK. So for any young South Australian who’s thinking about an adventure, you can go to the UK and work for three years, and vice versa. Anyone, a young Brit, who wants to come here to South Australia and experience everything that’s wonderful about this great state can come here and if there’s an opportunity for them to work, whether it be in hospitality or in any other area, they can do that.
So it’s a great agreement in that it brings our two countries closer together again. There was that split when the United Kingdom went to the European Union in 1975. They cut off a lot of trade, especially agricultural trade, between Australia and the United Kingdom. And that wrong has now been righted.
TONY PILKINGTON: Minister, what’s in it? I know what is in it for us and we’re pretty pleased about it, but what’s in it for the UK?
DAN TEHAN : So, for the UK what it means is things like their cars, their whiskey getting here cheaper. As a matter of fact, there’s about $200 million worth of goods that come from the UK here to Australia which immediately they get the tariff on. So it’s truly a win-win. And a lot of the things that we get from the United Kingdom are sort of manufacturing parts and equipment which goes into the manufacturing sector here in Australia and here in South Australia. So what it really does is make sure that there’s freer trade right across the broad – 99 per cent of all tariffs both ways get removed. And it will strengthen both our economies and at a time when there’s a lot of protectionism globally, the United Kingdom and Australia are really leading the way in saying no, protectionism isn’t the way to go.
TONY PILKINGTON: Minister, does this kick in immediately?
DAN TEHAN : It will kick in 1 July.
TONY PILKINGTON: Okay.
DAN TEHAN : So we’ve formally signed. Now what we’ve got to do is it’s just got to be ratified by both parliaments and then 1 July it kicks into force.
TONY PILKINGTON: Also from a professional point of view it will make it easier for young professionals – not that we want to lose them, mind you – but for them to actually get jobs in the UK, is that right?
DAN TEHAN : That’s right. And what they’ll be able to do is get an extraordinary amount of experience from that and then be able to come back here and use that experience. And also we’ll be able to get young professionals from the United Kingdom coming here to improve their skills and then return to the UK. So it’s going to bring our two nations closer together, there is no doubt about that. And I think most Australians would recognise how important those historical ties are with the United Kingdom, but now we’re bringing them up to date in a way that really the only other country that we will share a closer economic relationship with is New Zealand. Second to New Zealand this agreement is the best we have.
TONY PILKINGTON: Minister, before we wrap it up, what are your feelings about tourism and border closures? What’s the word from up in Canberra on these two issues?
DAN TEHAN : Well, our hope is we’re going to continue to see Australia open up internally and we’ll be able to still continue to open up to the rest of the world. We’ve made huge inroads in the lead-up to Christmas, and that’s on the back of people being vaccinated at extraordinary levels in this country. Those over 70 are now vaccinated above 98 per cent, those over 50 are vaccinated above 94 per cent. So we’ve done the hard work. Everyone’s rolling up now and getting ready to get their booster, so we want to see states and territories to continue to open up. Steven Marshall here in South Australia I know has done a great job and is continuing to open South Australia up safely. Queensland is also heading down that path. Western Australia will do it in February. We welcomed back tourists from South Korea and Japan this week, international students, working holiday visa maker holders.
So given our vaccination rates, we need everyone to just follow the sensible health advice and let’s keep opening our nation up, because at heart we’re a very open nation, we’re open to the rest of the world. That’s what our success has been based on. And that’s what we want to get back to post pandemic.
TONY PILKINGTON: Good on you. Minister, thanks for your time this morning. Enjoy the rest of your stay in Adelaide. Are you lucky enough to be going down to the cricket, or have you got to go back to Canberra?
DAN TEHAN: I’ve got to go back to Victoria, but I bumped into the Premier and he said try and get over and see if you can see a few balls being bowled. So you never know, I might. I’ve never seen a pink ball test. I might try and at least see a few overs.
TONY PILKINGTON: Good on you, minister. Thanks for the time again. Congratulations on the signing of the free trade agreement. It’s important for everybody, and it’s a really good initiative. Thanks for the time. Enjoyed talking to you.
DAN TEHAN : Thanks a lot. Pleasure.
TONY PILKINGTON: That’s the Minister for Trade and Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan who’s been in Adelaide, half an hour or so ago along with the UK Secretary of State signed a very, very important free trade agreement.