DAN TEHAN: On the 27th of January the European Union decided to take a dispute against China for their trade practices against Lithuania to the WTO. Now, Australia having had the EU claim has decided to be a party to those consultations. This is something that every country has the right to do, especially when it has interests in this dispute and Australia feels that it has a very strong interest in this dispute that the EU is taking on behalf of Lithuania to the WTO against China.
So, we will attempt to be a party to that dispute, to the consultations which will take place around it. And then we’ll wait and see whether it can be resolved through those consultations or whether further action will be taken by the European Union to progress that dispute.
Now, Australia has taken a very clear stance when it comes to dealing with economic coercion. We think that trade practices which distort exports from any country towards another are wrong and should be stopped. This is the clear position that we’ve taken and will continue to take.
And in that regard that’s why I was very surprised to see the comments by Anthony Albanese recently where he’s called on China to end it’s current practices against some – some – Australian industries that we are currently facing. Now, which industries does he want China to resolve our disputes with and which ones doesn’t he? Is it our Western Australian barley growers, our South Australian wine growers, our fishing industry in Tasmania, our land producers in Victoria, the resources sectors in New South Wales, in Queensland, or our beef producers in the Northern Territory? This is the question that Anthony Albanese must be asked – which of Australia’s regional and rural producers is he prepared to sacrifice in his diplomatic approach? Happy to take any questions.
JOURNALIST: Minister, it’s Fi Willan here from Channel Nine. Do you think that Australia joining this EU case will further sour relations with China, and if it does, do you care?
DAN TEHAN: Obviously we have said all along – all along – that we want to sit down and work through the disputes that we have with China. The first thing I did as Australia’s Trade Minister was write to my Chinese counterpart saying that we want to sit down and I want to sit down with him and work through these disputes and that offer still stands.
But we’ve also made very clear that when it comes to restrictive trade practices that we will stand up for Australian industry and we will stand up for all Australian industries in dealing with these trade disputes. What we’ve been very clear about is that we wouldn’t be prepared to sacrifice Western Australian barley growers or South Australian wine growers or Victorian land producers or Tasmanian fishing industry or our resource sectors in New South Wales and in Queensland and our beef producers in the Northern Territory. We want to make sure that all the restrictive trade practices are lifted, not just some of them.
JOURNALIST: Minister, Jen Bechwati from Seven News. Just a question on a different topic: is it fair that foreign diplomats in Canberra get immunity from local prosecution, and should repeat offenders, particularly on the roads, be deported?
DAN TEHAN: Look, obviously there are diplomatic protocols which are put in place globally, and all countries are asked to adhere by those diplomatic protocols. We continue to speak to all diplomats who come to Australia, the need for them to adhere to our rules and our practices, be it on the road or in any other area and for them to abide by the protocols which are put in place. So we will continue to push that incredibly strongly with all the diplomats here – that they abide by the protocols in place. There are diplomatic protocols which govern all countries right across the world, and Australia also has to make sure that it adheres to those protocols as well.
JOURNALIST: Minister, James Massola here from The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald. A question with your tourism hat on: will Kanye West be granted a visa to tour Australia given he’s only had one coronavirus jab?
DAN TEHAN: Well, obviously that is a decision which will be taken by the Minister for Immigration. He will look at that visa application, like he does all other visa applications. And I wouldn’t like to say anything which in any way might prejudice the decision that the Minister for Immigration might take. But I can assure everyone and all Australians that it will be looked at in a diligent manner and, like all visa applications, the applicant would have to adhere to Australian rules and protocols for that visa to be approved.
JOURNALIST: Sorry, minister, if I can just clarify, are you saying that there’s one rule for Novak Djokovic and potentially another for Kanye West?
DAN TEHAN: No, I’m not at all. I’m saying that the Minister for Immigration will make a decision on this, like he does on all visas, and it will be very much done with the proper diligence and a decision taken which shows that he needs to apply in accordance to the rules as they do for everyone. But I wouldn’t like to say anything more on this that in any way might prejudice his decision.
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