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Liberal Motion -Tasmania Trade and Export Success

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Tags: Trade, Exports, China, Taiwan

That this House -

  1. Notes that the most recent export figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show Tasmania exported a near-record $3.7 billion of goods in the year to July 2018. 
  2. Further notes that Tasmania is leading the nation with 29.2 per cent growth in exports over 2017, which is nearly four times higher than the national rate of growth. 
  3. Further notes that over 80 per cent of Tasmanian goods exports were into Asian markets, with top exports being mining and mineral products, as well as agriculture and seafood. 
  4. Further notes that Tasmania's top two export destinations were China and Malaysia, representing $1.42 billion worth of our total exports. 
  5. Further notes that this continued strong growth in exports demonstrates the success of the Government's plan to open up new opportunities for Tasmanian products, underpinned by trade missions with the business sector to important export markets. 
  6. Further notes that the Government's strong focus on trade is leading to new investment and job creating opportunities in Tasmania. 


Ms O'CONNOR (Denison - Leader of the Greens) - Thank you, Mr Hidding, for bringing on this notice of motion today. Ms White, I listened to your response with great interest and it was very hard to argue with any part of it. As someone who has been in this Chamber for 10 years but also an observer of Tasmanian politics, media and society for some 30 years, it is difficult to swallow the daily dose of flagrant self-promotion and claiming credit for the work of many people and governments, movements and organisations over the decades to make Tasmania the place it is today unique in the world and regarded as such by people from all over the world. 

Part of the reason our exports do so well is the hard work of our primary producers and other exporters, but also that the brand here is strong and is built on our natural attributes. The brand is built is built on those things that set us apart in the world - our naturalness, our wilderness, our protected areas, our unspoiled waters and our endemic species which have not yet been driven to extinction as native species have in many parts of the world. 

While nothing in this notice of motion is particularly offensive, apart from claiming credit at the end for Tasmania's economic success, it is also an act of denialism about the history here that led to the development of Tasmania's export strength. In fact, if you travelled to other parts of the world 20 years ago and said you were from Tasmania, people would say, 'Where?' These days everyone you talk to overseas knows about Tasmania and that brings with it enormous opportunities and considerable challenges as well. 

I flag that we would like to amend the motion and insert a new paragraph (5) to account for the fact that we have a number of significant export partners and they include, in descending order, China, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan and Thailand. They represent around $2.25 billion worth of our total exports. I note, just as a matter of interest, that the Australian Bureau of Statistics trade data for July had Taiwan as our number two export destination. Historically, Taiwan has always been a very strong export market for Tasmania, that small democratic and independent island nation.

I ask when whoever it is in on the 11th floor in the media unit, or in a particular minister's office, drafts up these sorts of self-promoting notices of motion - because apparently question time is not enough time for the Government to promote itself - perhaps they could have more of an eye on the history. The history here is that a very significant part of what makes Tasmania recognised around the world as a natural place comes from the efforts and the struggle of Aboriginal people, conservationists, over decades to defend this island from pillage and plunder. We should acknowledge that the brand is founded on those efforts to set natural Tasmania aside and look after it.

Madam Speaker, I move:

That paragraph (4) be omitted and replaced with the following new paragraph (4): 

Further notes that Tasmania's top five export destinations were China, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan and Thailand, representing $2.25 billion worth of our total exports.

Just a cautionary warning here: I know that in the July ABS data, 28 per cent of our export market was with China. That brings with it some risk if something happens in the Chinese economy, and that is why making sure that we are diversifying and engaging with our other significant trading partners is really important. 

I place it on the record again; we have not, in living memory - in my memory, in this place - sent a trade delegation to Taiwan. The reason we have not done that is because we are terrified of upsetting the Chinese Government and it should not be that way. We should have the courage and the self-respect to engage with all our trading partners in an honest, respectful and constructive way. 

Trade is one of the most important mechanisms for delivering peace. If you have countries that are engaged in mutually beneficial trading arrangements, you are much less likely to have misunderstanding, dispute, and conflict. In a globalised community where we are trading regularly across borders and entering into trade agreements, that is really healthy if we can make sure that as a sovereign democracy we have the capacity to make laws in the national interest. We have to ensure that we do not enter into obsequious, sycophantic relationships with trading partners as a growing number of Tasmanians believe this Liberal Government has with Xi Jinping's government.

Madam Speaker, with those few words, I move the amendment. I have nothing further to say about this self-promoting motion from Mr Hidding.