Kwinana Grain Terminal

  • Transcript, E&OE
  • Joint transcript with:
  • Senator the Hon Murray Watt, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Minister for Emergency Management
  • The Hon Madeleine King MP, Minister for Resources, Minister for Northern Australia, Member for Brand
Subjects: Recommencement of barley exports to China, Trade with China trade.

Minister for Resources, Madeleine King: Good morning everyone. My name is Madeleine King. I'm the Member for Brand, the Minister for Resources, the Minister for Northern Australia.

Welcome to Kwinana Grain Terminal. CBH’s Kwinana Grain Terminal, the largest grain terminal in the Southern Hemisphere. This is a facility that has been built to last. It's been here for just over 50 years, just like me, in fact, also from Kwinana. And it is one of those extraordinary pieces of infrastructure that helps the great wheat belt of Western Australia, the great wheat growers right across Western Australia, hold their grain so it can go right around the world and feed our region and provide the food security that we know the region needs and has made use of this facility for so long.

It's my great pleasure to be here with the Trade Minister, Senator Don Farrell, and the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Murray Watt, and Simon and Ben, from CBH. And they'll be talking to you in a minute, but I just wanted to say, as the Premier of Western Australia always says, we now know that the world does revolve around Kwinana, and certainly the grain stock of the region revolves around the Kwinana Grain Terminal. So, with that, I'll hand over to the Minister for Trade.

Minister for Trade, Don Farrell: Thank you, Madeleine, and it's wonderful to be here in Kwinana today to talk about the first shipment of this beautiful grain, this beautiful barley, going back into the Chinese market. I want to thank you for the role you play in the Albanese government in resources, in promoting this great state of Western Australia, and of course, your local district of Brand.

As you know, a couple of weeks ago, as a result of an application to the Chinese government to review their tariffs, 80.5 per cent tariffs on Australian barley, the Chinese government agreed to lift those tariffs. Just behind me are the silos that yesterday were filled with this beautiful barley that have now started the process of delivering that barley back into the Chinese market. It's a wonderful development. The two states that were most badly affected by the barley bans by the Chinese were West Australia, and South Australia. I'm so pleased that we've managed to lift those tariffs, and give the opportunity to the Chinese consumers, particularly the beer drinkers, to have some of the best barley in the world to make their beer. So, it's been a wonderful development.

We haven't finished the job yet. Part of my role since coming to this position 15 months ago has been to stabilise our relationship with the Chinese government. We've removed a whole lot of impediments on a variety of different products, obviously, including barley. But we still have more to do. We've got to lift the restrictions on wine, on lobster, on hay, and on a range of beef products. We're working on those. It'll take a bit of perseverance, it'll take a bit of persistence, and it'll take a little bit of time, but I'm confident that the good working relationship that we've now achieved with the Chinese government will, in a short space of time, result in all of those restrictions being removed.

But for the moment, it's been fantastic that our barley is back into the Chinese market, and I look forward to a long, strong and continuing relationship with the Chinese government to make sure that not only magnificent Australian wheat and barley producers sell their product, but that Chinese consumers get the advantage of our wonderful produce. So, thank you very much. And now I'll call on my very good friend, the hardworking Minister for Agriculture, Murray Watt.

Minister for Agriculture, Murray Watt: Thanks very much, Don. It's terrific to join you as the Trade Minister for Australia, who's delivered so many wins for our agriculture sector. And, of course, Madeleine, my good mate and the local member here, who's a real champion for Western Australia in the Federal Parliament. Today is a great day for Western Australia. Today is a great day for Western Australian agriculture and in fact, for our whole nation's agriculture sector. And I'm really pleased that Simon and Ben have had us along for this really important day, which sees the recommencement of barley exports to China.

Before China imposed its trade restrictions on barley from Australia, the barley trade from Australia to China was worth anything up to $2 billion a year. So, to be able to restore that market for companies like CBH, for grain growers in Western Australia, and for the whole Western Australian economy is a really important development. And I again want to congratulate Don, Penny Wong, the Prime Minister, and all of the officials from our departments who've been working so hard on this, to restore this market for our grain growers here.

We know that Western Australia is an agricultural powerhouse of our nation, in particular the grains industry, which over the last couple of years has produced record harvests. And that's been good news for growers here, but it's been fantastic news for the state, and national economy as well. To be able to now restore this most important market for our barley producers is a huge step forward in growing this grains industry well into the future.

It's terrific to have heard that overnight, the first shipment has been dispatched from Kwinana and it's gradually working its way towards China. And that is, as I say, terrific news for our grain growers here in Western Australia.

This is a direct result of the Albanese government's calm and consistent manner in our approach to China and stabilising that relationship with our most important trading partner. Frankly, this could have only happened under a Labor government. We saw what happened when the Morrison government was in power and that relationship with China unfortunately went sour. It's only a result of the hard work of many people within the Albanese government that has restored this. I also want to recognise the efforts of industry who've been using their connections to help restore this trade as well. This is a terrific day for Western Australia, and we're really proud to be part of it. I might hand over to Simon Stead, the Chairman of CBH, to add a few comments on what it means for the company.

Simon Stead, CBH Group Chairman: Thanks, Murray. I'd like to welcome the members of the Albanese government here to the Kwinana Grain Terminal this morning. And mainly I'd like to extend a very big thank you on behalf of the whole of the Australian grains industry, and particularly the barley growers who will benefit from this hard work. There has been a lot of hard work and collaboration between all of the government Ministers, and public servants here in working with the grain industry to get this outcome, and I think it's really appreciated. We've seen a significant move or an immediate move in the barley price, some $50 to $60 a tonne since the announcement's been made. As Murray said, the first shipment has left Kwinana at 7:15am this morning, and I think it's had a fantastic impact on prices going forward for the new crop.

China is a very, very important market for our barley. They are responsible for 80 to 90 per cent of malt produced in the Asia region. And I think it's not only important for us, but it's important, as Murray and Madeleine said, for the Chinese to have access to the highest quality barley which Australia produces. So, again, I'd like to thank them on behalf of the Australian growers, and we look forward to picking off the next pieces. There's lots to work on in the Ag portfolio and the infrastructure area. So, we're working closely now, we've developed good relationships and we'll continue to talk about what's required to further the industry. Thanks for your time this morning.

Minister for Agriculture: We're happy to take questions.

Journalist: Minister, can I just ask quickly, what barley trade is worth given… [indistinct]?

Minister for Agriculture: Just working out which Minister. Well, as I say, immediately before China imposed its bans, the barley export market from Australia to China was worth anything up to $2 billion a year, which is a huge contribution to the national economy. Obviously, the Chinese economy is going through some difficulties at the moment, but we're very confident, and I know the industry is very confident, that we can be getting back to those kind of numbers over time as these shipments increase.

One of the reasons we were able to restore this trade, and Don knows this better than anyone, is that Chinese brewers, beer makers, were incredibly keen to get access to Australian barley again because of the very high quality of our barley. They had to make do for a period of time with inferior product from other countries. So, with that kind of reputation for our barley, we're very confident that we can be getting the numbers back up towards the sort of levels that we saw before those trade impediments occurred.

Journalist: So, regional Western Australians are a bit upset about the skilled labour visas, do you have any explanations or any sort of clarity?

Minister for Agriculture: Why don't I ask our resident Western Australian Madeleine King to answer that one?

Minister for Resources: Thanks, Murray. So, there is no cut to the skilled migration in Western Australia. This is about working hard to clear a backlog, and that's a backlog that the last government left us. The former government left the migration system of this country in a hot mess, and we're working really hard to fix that up right now. Minister Clare O'Neil and Minister Andrew Giles are doing a review of the migration system and we're very well aware.

I talk to the Premier a lot and I know the Premier talks to the Prime Minister a lot, as well as all the other Ministers here in Western Australia and right across the regions. And we understand the need for skilled labour in this country. So, one of the things we're doing, of course, is investing in TAFE to make sure more Australians can be skilled to do this work. But also, we know that a skilled migration program is really important. There are no cuts to the current migration. We are clearing a backlog and we'll continue to work on that. We understand the issue. Any other questions?

Journalist: Taiwan’s chief representative to Australia says Taiwan’s been very…[Indistinct].

Minister for Trade: Thank you for that question. Taiwan, of course, are one of the applicants for the CPTPP agreement. We have recently renegotiated that agreement to include the United Kingdom, and they are the most recent admission to that agreement. We've now taken a decision of all of the members in the CPTPP to review what will happen next in terms of free trade agreements with countries and economies, including Taiwan.

There's a couple of things about that. Number one is that it's required to have consensus, so all of the parties to the CPTPP have to agree to the admission of additional countries and economies. Secondly, you've got to have high trade standards. One of the great features of the CPTPP, and one of the reasons why it's been so popular for other countries to get in, is because it has those high standards. So, that's the process that's going on at the moment, and we look forward to progressing additional countries coming into that agreement.

Journalist: [Indistinct].

Minister for Trade: We will consider all of the future applications based on a high standard that all of the countries will have to meet, and secondly, a consensus basis. What that means is every country in the CPTPP must consent to any country coming into that agreement.

Journalist: And how long will the process take?

Minister for Trade: Look, we've just finalised the United Kingdom. That was only done last month. We are in discussions about how we might proceed with the next lot of applications. So, I'm confident that within a relatively short space of time, we'll make it very clear as to what the process will be, and how countries can access the CPTPP.

Journalist: Can someone clarify what kind of grain is on the first shipment and how much tonnage went?

Ben Macnamara, CBH Group CEO: Nice to see you. My name is Ben Macnamara, CEO at CBH Group. So, the first shipment is roughly 55,000 tonnes in total and it's Maximus Barley. Thank you.

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