Press conference

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: QLD Premier’s trade war, Commonwealth Games, M1.
04 August 2017

STEVEN CIOBO: The Queensland Premier needs to take adecision to revoke the policy that she's announced. The simple fact is that theannounced policy, Labor's so-called Queensland First Policy is going to donothing except put Queensland exporters last. In April of this year, theQueensland Treasurer said that "one in five jobs in Queensland weretrade-related." That's nearly 500,000 Queenslanders that are relying ontrade for their livelihoods, and Queensland's Premier is threatening, directly,their livelihoods. This reckless Labor policy that will we see opendiscrimination against other countries, and indeed other states, with whomAustralia has actually given commitments, with whom the Queensland Premierherself has actually made commitments, is a policy that will simply ensure thatQueensland exporters are left behind and in fact are worse off. The consequenceof that is lower economic growth and fewer jobs. The Queensland Premier isattempting to try and surf some kind of wave of protectionism, but all she isgoing to ensure that happens is fewer job opportunities for Queenslanders andactually results in what is a trading state losing preferential market accessin a whole host of different countries around the world. Currently, under thefree trade agreements and other agreements that we've got in place, we havegovernment procurement agreements with Chile, Korea, Japan, and Singapore,these are all being jeopardised now by the Queensland Premier. So, this policyneeds to be revoked. It's simply unacceptable. The Queensland Premier basicallydeclares that New Zealand's Trade Minister doesn't know what he's talkingabout. This has been a monumental stuff-up by Queensland's Labor Premier. She'snow stepping on toes globally. It is high time that this policy was reversedand reversed quickly.

JOURNALIST: How concerning is it for you that aforeign trade partner is already expressing concerns about this policy sopublicly?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well, we know that we've given commitmentsnot to discriminate with the United States, with Korea, with Japan, with awhole host of countries, including Singapore as well. And the reason we say wewon't discriminate is because in order to get preferential market access, inorder to get our exporters the best opportunity to export into those markets,we of course have to open up our economy to competition as well. So, theQueensland Premier is attempting to have her cake and eat it too. She wants tosay "we're going to open markets, but we're going to close downQueensland." Well, guess what, our trade partners will say, "wellQueensland, if you are not prepared to honour your commitments, then why shouldwe honour our commitments?" And that simply means that for a trading statelike Queensland, indeed for a trading country like Australia, it means that ourexporters are put under immense pressure, which makes it so much harder forthem to be able to export. And as I said, the Queensland Labor Treasurerhimself said that "roughly 500,000 jobs were reliant on trade." Andthose are now being jeopardised by this reckless policy of the QueenslandGovernment.

JOURNALIST: Have you had any legal advice, Mr Cioboas to whether the State Government can actually have a policy like this?

STEVEN CIOBO: I'm currently seeking legal advice aboutthe ramifications of this policy announcement by Queensland's Treasurer and bythe Queensland Premier.

JOURNALIST: Is the Federal Government effectivelyintervening in what is a state policy matter or do you think that it goesbeyond state boundaries?

STEVEN CIOBO: This is an issue that's so much biggerthan just the policies of the Queensland Government. This is an issue that goesto one; whether or not the Queensland Government can be relied upon to followthrough on commitments that they make. It's an issue that goes to Australia'sreputation globally. The Premier seems to be very happy to junk Australia'sreputation, and that is not good enough. It is not good enough that we wouldsee Queensland and Australian exporters having their livelihoods threatened andactually seeing those people who work in that industry all being threatened asa direct consequence of this reckless policy. And that's why this recklesspolicy, absolutely, should be abandoned.

JOURNALIST: What does it say about Australia as atrading partner when the Premier of a state comes out and says, "we're notgonna do deals," or "we're gonna focus on our own markets?"

STEVEN CIOBO: Well I noticed that the Queensland Premier,as I said, was quick to basically say that the New Zealand Trade Ministerdidn't know what he was talking about. That of itself is completelyunacceptable. But we've also got a situation where the Queensland Premier hasboasted she's going to turn her back on an agreement that has been in place forover 25 years. So, for over 25 years, the responsible Queensland Governmentshave recognised that this agreement has been important to give Queenslandexporters the best possible opportunity. Now this Queensland Premier says she'sgoing to tear it up, walk away from it, and also insults the New Zealand TradeMinister at the same time. I mean, the Premier needs to apologise, and she alsoneeds to make sure that she dumps this reckless policy.

JOURNALIST: The Premier, this morning, sort of saidthat on Monday, you spent over an hour with her and didn't raise any concernswith her. What's your response to that comment?

STEVEN CIOBO: I have written to the Queensland Premier,and I've asked her to urgently clarify her comments. We've been getting legaladvice all this week off the back of her announcement from Labor's conventionin Townsville on the weekend.

JOURNALIST: So are you for Queenslanders or Kiwis?

STEVEN CIOBO: Absolutely, I'm all for Queenslanders andthat's precisely the reason why we absolutely must make sure that we keepinternational markets open up to Queensland exporters. Queensland currentlyexports $12-13 billion more than we import. This is a huge livelihood forQueenslanders, for Queensland businesses, 500,000 Queenslanders relying on theexport trade in order to keep their jobs, all of this threatened by thisridiculous policy of the Queensland Government which threatens theirlivelihood.

JOURNALIST: Are you aware the M1 has been closed thismorning because of a truck accident?

STEVEN CIOBO: I've seen reports about it.

JOURNALIST: What sort of a message, is that a warningsign ahead of the Comm Games?

STEVEN CIOBO: Look, we continue to see the consequencesof traffic congestion on the M1. It's an issue that I know many people areconcerned about, it's raised with me on a regular basis. That's precisely whythe Australian Government stepped up to the plate with funds to continue wideningthe M1. It's precisely the reason why, in 2007, I was pleased to secure fundsfor the widening of the M1. It just needs to happen now. The QueenslandGovernment needs to come up with a long-term solution that they can put forwardto provide the kind of traffic easing that's required on that major piece ofinfrastructure.

JOURNALIST: You were talking about getting legaladvice. Once you've obtained that legal advice will you then seek to have anaudience with the Premier about this situation?

STEVEN CIOBO: I'm waiting on the Premier to respond tomy letter from earlier this week where I asked her to clarify exactly whichagreements she was prepared to walk away from. I mean, it is extraordinary thata Premier, a Labor Premier, would stand up and boast openly about ignoringagreements that her government, and previous Labor governments, and others,have signed up to. I mean, when you have a situation where a Premier boastsabout breaking commitments, then that is a very serious situation, and that'sprecisely why the Premier needs to stop pretending this is about Queenslandjobs and saying this is good for Queensland businesses. It's not. Make nomistake. Queensland businesses and Queensland jobs will suffer as a directresult of this policy because the Premier wants to pretend that we're not anexporting state, but we are an exporting state.

JOURNALIST: Are you worried the Gold Coast will fallinto an economic hole after the Comm Games or do you think there's enoughinfrastructure projects and what not to keep the Coast going?

STEVEN CIOBO: It's absolutely critical that we continueto make sure that we give as much momentum to the Gold Coast economy as wepossibly can. In that respect, of course, we continue to see a range ofinvestments across the Coast, but tourism is always going to be the principledriver of this economy, and that's why I'm committed to investing recordamounts of money in Tourism Australia, continue to make sure we have a recordnumber of tourists staying for a record length of time, spending a recordamount of money, which powers this local economy.

JOURNALIST: Light rail stage three would be anotheroption as well to help keep the economy ticking rightly.

STEVEN CIOBO: Well, as you know, the CoalitionGovernment contributed funding. We're the second biggest contributor to stagetwo of the light rail. Once the State Government and the Gold Coast CityCouncil have completed their feasibility study, put together the business caseand submit it to the Federal Government, we'll have a good look at stage three,which the Prime Minister himself acknowledged when he was last here on the GoldCoast.

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