Interview on Channel 7, Sunrise, with Samantha Armytage
Samantha Armytage: Australia's farmers and fishers have been thrown a lifeline — yay — with the Government committing $240 million to help keep international freight routes and flights operating. The money extends support for Aussie exports until the end of this year. Global supply chains have been hit hard by the pandemic, with international travel grounded for the foreseeable future. And for more, we are joined by Trade Minister, Simon Birmingham. Minister, good morning to you.
Simon Birmingham: Good morning, Sam.
Samantha Armytage: Firstly, what’s been the impact of the pandemic on our primary producers?
Simon Birmingham: Look, our primary producers have done an incredible job working through the most challenging of circumstances. But they have seen a situation where airfreight has been virtually impossible for them to reach because more than 90 per cent of Australia's airfreight usually goes out in the bellies of passenger aircraft. And as everybody knows, we don't have any international passenger flights flying at present. That’s why the Government had to step in and we’ve put in place a freight mechanism to keep planes flying, so that our seafood, our meat, our horticultural products could still get to markets and we’re now investing an extra $240 million to push this program right through the rest of this year and to save some $3 billion worth of exports, primarily farm exports from Australia.
Samantha Armytage: Terrific. Okay. So will these freight flights be travelling to some of these coronavirus hotspots? How is this going to work on the ground? And how small an area can you get these big freight aeroplane into?
Simon Birmingham: So we've got really tight and safe requirements around what happens at our international airports in terms of freight flights coming and going and everybody in Australia should be assured that those crews are kept strictly in quarantine for the amount of time they’re in Australia, then they fly back out again, very, very quickly. In terms of the destinations, through the Middle East, through South East Asia, our major regions. You know, our farmers and our exporters work damn hard to secure export contracts. And what we don't want them to do is lose them at this time, and then not be able to regain them in the future. And that’s why this investment is so important, not just for the immediate $3 billion worth of exports, but for the long-term future of our expert industries.
Samantha Armytage: Okay. Simon Birmingham, thanks for your time this morning. Good to chat.
Simon Birmingham: Thanks Sam.