Interview on 5AA with Tony Pilkington
TonyPilkington: Goodmorning and welcome to 5AA.
SimonBirmingham: Goodmorning Pilko, good to be with you. I might take you to task a little bit onthat intro.
TonyPilkington: Wellyeah go ahead because I'm all set ready to go.
SimonBirmingham: Surething mate. Well I think under our government we will see $90 billion dollars'worth of defence industry contracts that have been made, the announcement ofthe space industry agency just at the end of last year…
TonyPilkington: Just onthe bit about.
SimonBirmingham: … the Murray-Darling BasinPlan being delivered in full, on time…
TonyPilkington: Wait aminute, wait a minute just on that bit of $80 or $90 billion dollars onsubmarines. By the time these submarines get into the water, the Chinese willhear them leaving the harbor right from the word go. Wouldn't it be nice to bespending your money on medical research for the Hanson Institute and fixing upthe hospital and doing things like that? That's a bloody a lot of money $80 or$90 million dollars on submarines. Do we really need those submarines? Whydon't we have more patrol boats up along the coast of WA? I was talking to anAFP officer and he says there's not enough patrol boats up there all the wayfrom Port Hedland down to Perth and this is where so many of the drugs come in.
SimonBirmingham: Well its$90 billion across three different platforms. There's the offshore patrolvessel which construction is already underway on, the deal has been cut inrelation to those, the first few of those will be built in Adelaide followed bythe Future Frigates program, to be followed then by the submarines which willbe absolutely cutting edge technology. Each of these different platforms,different types of ships that our Navy need. This is one of the largestinvestments in Peacetime going into our defence industries, but of course thisis also a big investment coming into our state and sits alongside of the factthat we committed funding for (indistinct) stage2, and they are absolutely important there, the medical research investment aswell, and all these sorts of things come to South Australia because indeed thelikes of Christopher Pyne and I at the Cabinet table.
TonyPilkington: Hang ona minute, I still don't believe we need and we need these submarines for God'ssake, $80 or $90 billion dollars on submarines, the money can be spent betterelsewhere. Senator onto the issue of some good news though for the farmers andbusinessmen. This is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that's the agreement that actuallystarted yesterday. Tell us what it's all about.
SimonBirmingham: Thatpartnership is a very exciting initiative, it's a trade bloc, a trade agreementthat exists between ourselves and 10 other nations. It started out includingthe United States, Donald Trump pulled out of it, but we persevered and workedparticularly closely with Japan.
TonyPilkington: Is itstill going to be effective now that Trump, Donald Trump has decided to pullout of it? Does it make it less effective now that the United States are notinvolved?
SimonBirmingham: Itreduces some of the economic benefit but there is still projected to be some$15 billion plus annual benefit to the Australian economy under this deal...
TonyPilkington: That's alot of money.
Simon Birmingham:…and in this state wealready export around $3 billion dollars' worth of goods and services todifferent TPP countries. This will for the first time give wine makerstariff-free access to Canada, it will give cereal growers and grain producers'preferential access to Canada and Mexico for the first time. It will helpfurther our seafood producers getting into the Japanese market, they alreadyget $100 million dollars' worth of frozen seafood out of South Australian.
TonyPilkington: Senatorhere's the question why has it taken so long? Why is it only the beginning ofthis year that this this thing is kicking in?
SimonBirmingham: Thesethings to take a long time to negotiate between countries and that's true ofcourse, what happened was we saw this stall at one stage when Donald Trumpdecided to pull the pin on it. At the time Bill Shorten said we should give upand walk away. We didn't give up the walkway, we re-negotiated with all theother countries, we've done a deal now that doesn't involve the US. They'rewelcome to come back to the table anytime to join under the terms thateverybody else has negotiated.
TonyPilkington: Arethere any countries that we've signed this agreement with that we haven'tpreviously had an arrangement like this before?
SimonBirmingham: Canadaand Mexico being the two that I mentioned, they would be the most significantin that regard. But there are other countries such as Peru, who are part of theTPP partnership. With them, we have also separately negotiated a bi-lateralfree trade agreement. This comes on top of the agreement that we already havewith China, Japan and South Korea that we've negotiated over the last fewyears. It's something that I think many of your listeners would be surprisedand they'll think about the time back in the Keating era when you talk aboutthe banana republic trade deficit. You know, in the last couple of years we'verecorded trade surplus for 21 of the last 24 months, so as a country we areactually out there with our exporters doing incredibly well selling more intothe world than we necessarily import.
TonyPilkington: It's a quarter past nine,we're talking to the Federal Trade Minister Senator Simon Birmingham from herein South Australia. Senator you claim that a Shorten government will not beable to implement or keep such a policy in operation because of the restrictionsand pressure from trade unions?
SimonBirmingham: Laborhad their national conference as it happened at the end of last year and theyadopted some changes and those changes are to say they won't agree to tradeagreements that contain things called the 'investor state dispute' mechanism.These processes are really to ensure that those who invest in other countries,so if BHP goes and invests in other countries setting up, buying servicesthere, or Rio Tinto or others, that they have some protection around theirinvestment. Now equally, they apply for companies who might invest in Australiabut Australia is a country with a very stable legal system, sound rule of law,people don't tend, governments don't seem to act in ways that undermineinvestments that have been used here. So these provisions have never been usedsuccessfully against Australia but they are occasionally used by Australiancompanies to protect themselves overseas. It makes no sense as to why the LaborParty would say well we're not going to support an agreement that containsthese provisions but in doing so they will make it so much harder to be able toactually seal trade deals in future. The important thing is these trade dealsare delivering benefits for Australia, for our wine makers, for ouragricultural producers, also in a range of increasingly manufactured foodproducts as well. I was up in China late last year and the extent to which weare seeing the growth of Australian product that are packaged, branded,produced, labelled, and sent from Australia identifiably it's an Australianbranded juice product whether it's shampoo or whether it's food produced orotherwise, is people want quality assurance, safety assurance that comes withan Australian product.
TonyPilkington: Senator,thanks for your time this morning Senator Simon Birmingham from SouthAustralia.