Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement Bill 2017

I’m very pleased to speak on the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement Amendment Implementation Bill. Given that he is in the chamber, I really want to commend Minister Ciobo on his efforts in putting this Singaporean deal together—it is very important to have it signed in an agreement to amend the free trade agreement or SAFTA. The free trade agreement is one of the pillars of our close relationship with Singapore. As a member for an electorate that exports some fine quality products and produce around the world—including services that will be available in Singapore as a result of this agreement—I acknowledge the work of the minister in this space. The minister, having visited my electorate not so long ago, understands the capabilities and the capacity not only of my electorate but those around Australia and the opportunities this agreement provides.

As a trading nation, Australia relies on trade—there’s no other way of putting it. Every new free trade agreement that we do brings another opportunity for those who provide goods and services, as this one does. I represent the amazing region of the South-West, and the Margaret River region in particular, and my electorate already exports to all areas of the globe and especially into Asia. Singapore is one of the main gateways for this fast-growing region. The OECD estimates the global middle class will swell to 4.9 billion people by 2030—two-thirds of whom are expected to reside in Asia, with China itself having one billion of that global middle class.

SAFTA provides unprecedented access to Asian markets through the trade hub that is Singapore. The opportunities in the Margaret River region and throughout the South-West—as the minister is well aware and he supported me strongly in achieving the necessary federal funding—have been boosted with the upgrade for the Bustleton-Margaret River Airport to international status and international and domestic freight. This is really a critical issue in my electorate. It open up the whole of the South-West, not just the immediate Margaret River-Bustleton area, to allow the export of products directly into Singapore and then on to Asia. It is an amazing, transformative project and opportunity. My electorate has things like the wonderful wine that we’re internationally known for, and Amelia Park’s beautiful lamb and beef. We have that amazing and wonderful delicacy, marron, and Brad Adams down at Augusta with his ocean-grown baby abalone. Then there is the Margaret River Chocolate Company, which produces a handmade, premium product, a wonderful delicacy. Vasse Virgin is producing some amazing olive oil, raw soaps and natural products. There are also the artisan cheeses and yoghurts. Then there are niche companies like the Margaret River Fudge Factory, which is an experience in itself, or Nauti-Craft, which recently won a national award recently for innovation. There are lots of opportunities.

We will see people coming to and from the region as a result of this free trade agreement and we will see even more opportunities. The SAFTA does a number of things, removing the tariffs on exports to Singapore across the board and giving market access for Australian exporters of services, particularly around education, the environment, telecommunications and professional services. I look at all the expertise we have in the irrigation space in the south-west. Harvey Water is a multiaward-winning provider of irrigation. It is a co-op run by local farmers.

They’ve done extraordinary, groundbreaking work. I’m sure this is the sort of expertise that is transferable. That sort of expertise fits into the services space. There will also be opportunities in education—for Manea college, for example—and for telecommunication companies, law firms and insurance companies. When we get people coming into the south-west, into Busselton and the Margaret River region, through that wonderful airport, we’ll be able to offer them a range of amazing experiences.

The free trade agreement provides a more open and predictable business environment, exactly what businesses call for both in Singapore and in Australia. It includes competition policy, government procurement, intellectual property, e-commerce, customs procedures and business travel. This is just the beginning. These amendments are a key economic plank of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. This is another high-quality trade deal completed by the Turnbull government. It builds on the agreements with China, Thailand and South Korea and the Singapore agreement itself, delivering significant economic benefits and driving strong growth in the value of Australia’s exports. I want to see more of those opportunities for businesses and my region of the south-west of Western Australia. I thank the minister for his efforts.