House of Representatives Committees

Standing Committee on Primary Industries, Resources and Rural and Regional Affairs

Adjusting to agricultural trade reform: Australia no longer down under

Media Releases

 

[1] 16 JULY 1996

THE BENEFITS AND OPPORTUNITIES ASSOCIATED WITH INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURAL TRADE REFORM

The Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Primary Industries, Resources and Rural and Regional Affairs, Michael Ronaldson MP (Ballarat, Victoria), today announced the commencement of an inquiry into the benefits and opportunities associated with international trade reform and some of the challenges Australia faces as a result of these reforms.

The inquiry was referred to the Committee by the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, the Hon. John Anderson MP. The terms of reference for the inquiry are attached.

'The conclusion of the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations in April 1994 was a great outcome for Australia, and especially Australia's primary producers', Mr Ronaldson said today. 'The focus on agricultural trade reform was very significant and the final outcome reflects the desires of Australia's agricultural exporters for a fairer trading environment in which to sell their products.'

Mr Ronaldson said that 'Australia should benefit greatly from the Uruguay Round outcome, especially our rural sector. Estimates of the benefits from the Round forecast that in the long term Australia's exports will increase by $A5 billion. If we get things right the benefits of the Round should emerge over the coming decade'.

Mr Ronaldson added, 'These benefits will result from an expansion of commodity exports, and from increased demand for processed products, especially food products. However, merely being a signatory guarantees you very little in this competitive environment. Realising these benefits represents a great challenge for Australia and achieving them will require a strategic approach from Government and industry'.

'The Committee is particularly concerned about the way regional Australia can benefit from the Uruguay Round', Mr Ronaldson stated. 'There exists the opportunity for regional centres to formulate business strategies that go beyond the export of unprocessed agricultural products and result in a lasting benefit for these regions. Agribusiness training is one area that the Committee has identified as being important in this process'.

The process of implementing the Uruguay Round Agreement is crucial to the actual outcome for signatories to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) such as Australia. Australia will have to take a very positive role to ensure that the final outcome matches the spirit of the Agreement. Mr Ronaldson identified non-tariff measures as an area of concern, stating that 'gains from the agreed reforms may dwindle through the imposition of non-tariff trade measures'.

Under the terms of reference for the inquiry the Committee can also consider how Australia can maintain the focus of future trade negotiations on trade reforms for primary products. One direction that is emerging from preliminary negotiations of the WTO is the so-called 'greening of the GATT'. The imposition of trade measures based on environmental considerations will potentially have positive and negative impacts on Australia's primary sector.

Mr Ronaldson noted that 'with agricultural and resource based industries likely to be the most affected by environmental trade measures, Australia will have to take an active role in the process of setting environmental trade guidelines to ensure they are not used as a replacement for reforms that were reluctantly agreed to by some countries during the Uruguay Round negotiations'.

Mr Ronaldson said that the Committee is seeking submissions to its inquiry from interested individuals and organisations. The closing date for submissions is 23 August 1996.

Terms of Reference

The Committee is to inquire into the benefits for regional Australia and Australia's primary industries of, and further issues associated with, world trade reform, including the policy implications of:

 

[2] - 26 February 1997

THE BENEFITS AND OPPORTUNITIES ASSOCIATED WITH INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURAL TRADE REFORM

The Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Primary Industries, Resources and Rural and Regional Affairs, Fran Bailey MP (McEwen, Victoria), announced that the Committee would now begin collecting evidence for its inquiry into the benefits and opportunities associated with international trade reform.

Mrs Bailey highlighted the fact that this is not just another inquiry to measure the benefits of the Uruguay Round. Mrs Bailey said 'We all know that the Uruguay Round should benefit Australia's primary producers, however, for many producers and exporters realising these benefits may prove elusive'.

'Merely being a signatory to the agreement guarantees you very little in this competitive environment. Realising these benefits represents a great challenge for Australia and achieving them will require a strategic approach from Government and industry'.

The Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, the Hon. John Anderson MP, has not referred this inquiry to the Committee so it can pay lip service to the free trade mantra of the Canberra bureaucracy. It is the Committee's intention to seek advice from industry participants at all levels on what needs to be done by Government so Australian primary industries can truly benefit from the trade reform initiatives agreed to in the Uruguay Round.

Mrs Bailey emphasised that 'the Committee has no intention of restricting the inquiry to discussions in Canberra with the talking heads of peak industry groups and the bureaucracy. Certainly the opinions of these groups are very important, however, for this inquiry to really make a difference to the level of debate and the policies pursued by the Government the Committee has to speak with producers and exporters who can identify what impediments are still affecting their capacity to realise the much heralded benefits from trade reform'.

'The Committee is especially interested to talk with industries and individuals who have benefited from the reforms and look at what sets them apart. What makes them successful exporters! And then identify where Government policy can promote similar success for other primary producers'.

Mrs Bailey said 'she could not overstate the importance of individual producers and exporters taking the opportunity to speak to the Committee about their experiences and what areas they believe Government needs to focus on to help promote Australian exporters access overseas markets. It is these people who will ultimately benefit from the recommendations the Committee makes to the Minister and it these people who I am calling on to make a contribution to the Committee's inquiry'.

Finally, Mrs Bailey said 'The Committee is particularly concerned about the way regional Australia can benefit from the Uruguay Round. There exists the opportunity for regional centres to formulate business strategies that go beyond the export of unprocessed agricultural products and result in a lasting benefit for these regions'.

The Committee is still seeking submissions to its inquiry from interested individuals and organisations. People wanting further information on the inquiry and the Committee's activities should contact the Committee Chair, Fran Bailey MP (059) 621 255 or the Committee Secretariat (06) 277 4500.

Terms of Reference

The Committee is to inquire into the benefits for regional Australia and Australia's primary industries of, and further issues associated with, world trade reform, including the policy implications of:

 

[3] - 10 July 1997

INQUIRY INTO THE BENEFITS OF AGRICULTURAL TRADE REFORM

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Primary Industries, Resources and Rural and Regional Affairs is paying a four-day visit to the far north-west of Australia as part of its inquiry into Australia's Primary Industries and Trade Reform.

The visit, led by Committee Chair Fran Bailey will take in Kununurra, Western Australia and Bullo River Station, in the Northern Territory and involve discussions with industry representatives and producers.

The committee will visit several farms in the Ord River district to inspect chickpeas, melon, cotton, and beef operations and also tour the new CSR sugar mill and a banana plantation.

The visit to Bullo River Station involves an inspection of a new breeding program which it is hoped will produce cattle which are ideally suited to the conditions of northern Australia and meet customer demands of export trade to Asia.

Fran Bailey said the committee was seeking advice from all industry participants on what action the Government needed to take so that Australian primary industries could truly benefit international trade reform.

"This is not just another inquiry into primary industries. This is all about helping all our primary industries realise the full benefits of world trade reform," she said.

"This visit is part of the committee's commitment to go out into the community to talk to producers and exporters at the grass roots level to ensure that all factors affecting trade reform in the primary industries sector are thoroughly examined in this inquiry."

Mrs Bailey is available to discuss the visit with journalists.

Media enquiries: Maureen Bathgate (03) 5962 1255, Fran Bailey 0419 583 647

 

[4] - 1 August 1997

TRADE REFORM TEAM VISITS DARLING DOWNS

Darling Downs primary producers will be given the chance to have their say on international trade reform next week.

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Primary Industries, Resources and Rural and Regional Affairs will visit the region on Monday August 4 and Tuesday August 5.

Committee Chair, Fran Bailey will lead the two day visit taking in farming properties around Toowoomba, Gatton, Warwick and Oakey.

Fran Bailey said committee members would meet with producers, industry association representatives and the Queensland Government to discuss the opportunities and implications of international trade reform on Australia's primary industries.

"This is not just another inquiry into primary industries. This is all about helping our primary industries realise the full benefits of world trade reform," she said.

The committee will inspect farms producing horticulture, grains and pigs, as well as visiting a dairy property and one of the several beef feedlots on the Darling Downs.

Fran Bailey said the visit represented a recognition of the sheer diversity and volume of agricultural production on the Downs.

She said most of the wheat, barley, sorghum and pigs raised in Queensland were produced in the region.

"This makes the region ideal for us to get representative industry views about the impact of trade reform on primary industries in Queensland," she said.

"The visit will enable us to get a comprehensive picture of agriculture in this very productive region.

"The tour is part of the committee's commitment to go out into the community and talk to producers and exporters at the grass roots level. Their contribution will ensure all factors affecting trade reform in the primary industries sector, the community and economy in regional Australia are thoroughly examined in this inquiry.'

Fran Bailey is available to discuss the visit with journalists.

Media enquires: Belinda Fraser on 1800 134 105 or (03) 5962 1255.

 

[5] - 15 August 1997

MEDIA ALERT

South Australian primary producers will be given the chance to have their say on international trade reform next week.

The House of Representatives Primary Industries, Resources and Rural and Regional Affairs standing committee will visit the region from Monday August 18 to Wednesday August 20.

Committee chair, Fran Bailey will lead the three day visit which will take in several farms, packing sheds and processing plants around Adelaide and in the Riverland of South Australia.

The committee will visit several farms in Kingston, Renmark and Angaston, to inspect almond, citrus, stone fruit, viticulture, dried fruit and fodder operations.

The Riverland region is the largest grape growing region in Australia and the state is a principal exporter of Australian Navel and Valencia oranges, making up for nearly 40 per cent of the market.

Fran Bailey said committee members would meet with producers and industry representatives seeking advice on what action the government needed to take so that Australian primary industries could truly benefit from international trade reform.

"This is not just another inquiry into primary industries. This is about helping all our primary industries realise the full opportunities of world trade reform," she said.

"This is part of the committee's commitment to go out into the community to talk to producers and exporters at the grass roots level to ensure that all factors affecting trade reform in the primary industries sector are thoroughly examined in this inquiry."

Fran Bailey is available to discuss the visit with journalists.

Media enquiries: Belinda Fraser 1800 134 105 or (03) 5962 1255

 

[6] - 5 September 1997

MEDIA ALERT

New South Wales primary producers will be given the chance to have their say on international trade reform next week.

The House of Representatives Primary Industries, Resources and Rural and Regional Affairs standing committee will visit the state on Monday September 8 and Tuesday September 9.

Committee chair, Fran Bailey will lead the two day visit which will take in several farms and processing plants in Orange, Dubbo, Parkes and Warren.

The visit, the fourth in a national inquiry, will incorporate a number of industries which the committee has not yet considered in previous inspections and discussions, including wool, goat meat, wheat processing and cotton processing.

Agriculture plays an important part in the state's economy and represents about one quarter of national agriculture production. New South Wales is responsible for a significant proportion of Australia's wool clip, apple and cotton production.

Fran Bailey said committee members would meet with producers and industry representatives seeking advice on what action the government needed to take so that Australian primary industries could truly benefit from international trade reform.

"This is not just another inquiry into primary industries. This is about helping all our primary industries realise the full opportunities of world trade reform," she said.

"This is part of the committee's commitment to go out into the community to talk to producers and exporters at the grass roots level to ensure that all factors affecting trade reform in the primary industries sector are thoroughly examined in this inquiry."

As part of its inquiry, the committee has also toured the Riverland district of South Australia, the Darling Downs in Queensland and the Ord River region in Western Australia.

Fran Bailey is available to discuss the visit with journalists.

Media enquiries: Belinda Fraser 1800 134 105 or (03) 5962 1255

 

[7] - 28 October 1997

AGRICULTURAL TRADE REFORM INQUIRY TO TAKE EVIDENCE FROM THE NATIONAL FARMERS' FEDERATION

The parliamentary inquiry into the potential benefits of agricultural trade reform will tomorrow begin a series of public hearings by taking evidence from the National Farmers' Federation.

The Standing Committee on Primary Industries, Resources and Rural and Regional Affairs, chaired by Fran Bailey MP, will hold a public hearing at 10.00am in Committee Room 1R2.

The witnesses representing the National Farmers' Federation will be:

Mr Donald McGauchie, President
Mr Lyall Howard, Director, Trade and Quarantine

For comment contact Fran Bailey 6227 4280

For information about the hearing contact the Committee Secretariat 6277 4500

 

[8] - 3 November 1997

MEDIA ALERT

Tasmanian primary producers will be given a chance to have their say on international trade reform next week.

The House of Representatives Primary Industries and Rural and Regional Affairs standing committee will visit the region from Wednesday November 5 to Friday November 7.

Committee chair, Fran Bailey will lead the three day visit which will take in several farming properties and processing plants around Devonport, Forth, Ulverstone, Elizabeth Town, Cressy, Perth, Launceston and St Leonards.

The committee will visit properties to inspect aquaculture, vegetable, cheese, wool, meat and honey operations.

Tasmania’s primary industry exports have grown significantly over recent years with the exports for 1994/95 valued at $511 million.

Fran Bailey said committee members would meet with producers and government and industry representatives seeking advice on what action the government needed to take so that Australian primary industries could truly benefit from international trade reform.

“This is not just another inquiry into primary industries. This is about helping all our primary industries realise the full opportunities of world trade reform,” she said.

“The visit is part of the committee’s commitment to go out in the community and talk to producers and exporters at the grass roots level to ensure that all factors affecting trade reform in the primary industries sector are thoroughly examined in this inquiry.”

Fran Bailey is available to discuss the visit with journalists.

Media enquiries: Belinda Fraser 1800 134 105 or (03) 5962 1255

 

[9] - 24 November 1997

AGRICULTURAL TRADE REFORM INQUIRY TO TAKE EVIDENCE FROM THE AUSTRALIAN HORTICULTURAL CORPORATION

The parliamentary inquiry into the potential benefits of agricultural trade reform will continue a series of public hearings by taking evidence from the Australian Horticultural Corporation.

The Standing Committee on Primary Industries, Resources and Rural and Regional Affairs, chaired by Fran Bailey MP, will hold a public hearing at 10.00am on Wednesday 26 November 1997 in Committee Room 1R2.

The witnesses representing the Australian Horticultural Corporation will be:

Mr John Baker,Managing Director, and
Mr Neil Offner,Export Development Manager

For comment contact Fran Bailey 6227 4280

For information about the hearing contact the Committee Secretariat 6277 4500

 

[10] - 2 December 1997

AGRICULTURAL TRADE REFORM INQUIRY TO TAKE EVIDENCE FROM GRAINS COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA

The parliamentary inquiry into the potential benefits of agricultural trade reform will continue a series of public hearings by taking evidence from the Grains Council of Australia.

The Standing Committee on Primary Industries, Resources and Rural and Regional Affairs, chaired by Fran Bailey MP, will hold a public hearing at 10.00am on Wednesday 3 December 1997 in Committee Room 1R3.

The witnesses representing the Grains Council of Australia will be:

Mr Neil Fisher, Executive Director, and
Ms Kirsten Pietzner,Research Officer.

For comment contact Fran Bailey 6277 4280

For information about the hearing contact the Committee Secretariat 6277 4500

 

[11] - 9 February 1998

FRAN BRINGS TRADE INQUIRY HOME

Fran Bailey, Federal Member for McEwen is to bring the Primary Industries Committee to the Yarra Valley this week, in a visit that has been designed to bring the current trade inquiry back to the grass roots.

"I am happy to be able to give the residents of the Yarra Valley the chance to comment directly to the Committee, which will be delivering its report to the Federal Parliament in a few months", said Fran, Chair of the Standing Committee on Primary Industries, Resources and Rural and Regional Affairs (PIRRA).

Fran will lead the two day visit starting on 10 February 1998, through the Yarra Valley, Alexandra, Yarck and Mansfield, with a heavy focus on local trade issues.

The Committee is currently looking into the benefits of agricultural trade reform, and will visit local properties to inspect flowers, pasture seeds, timber, aquaculture, and winery operations.

"Australia's primary producers will directly benefit from this inquiry, as I am committed to providing them with a forum where local issues can be raised and addressed at a national level, taking full advantage of the opportunities of world trade reform" said Fran.

Fran said "This visit is part of my committee's commitment to go out in to the community and talk directly to producers and industry groups, ensuring that all factors affecting trade reform in the primary industries sector are thoroughly examined."

Media contact: Abby 1800 134 105 or (03) 5962 1255 or after hours on 041 856 4993

 

[12] - 3 March 1998

AGRICULTURAL TRADE REFORM INQUIRY TO QUESTION TRADE OFFICIALS

The parliamentary inquiry into the potential benefits of agricultural trade reform will continue a series of public hearings by taking evidence from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Austrade.

The Standing Committee on Primary Industries, Resources and Rural and Regional Affairs, chaired by Fran Bailey MP, will hold a public hearing at 10.00 am on Wednesday 4 March in Committee Room 1R3.

The Committee will question officials about the wide spread view in the farming community that the agricultural trade reforms so far negotiated are being implemented in a way that is detrimental to Australia's interests.

Evidence will also be taken about the performance and effectiveness of Austrade.

For comment on the Committee's inquiry contact Fran Bailey 6277 4280

For information about the hearing contact the Committee Secretariat on 6277 4500

 

[13] - 10 March 1998

AGRICULTURAL TRADE REFORM INQUIRY TO QUESTION AQIS

The parliamentary inquiry into the potential benefits of agricultural trade reform will continue a series of public hearings by taking evidence from officials of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service.

The Standing Committee on Primary Industries, Resources and Rural and Regional Affairs will hold a public hearing at 10.00 am on Wednesday 11 March in Committee Room 1R3.

For comment on the Committee's inquiry contact Fran Bailey 6277 4280

For information about the hearing contact the Committee Secretariat on 6277 4500

 

[14] - 24 March 1998

TRADE REFORM INQUIRY TO TAKE EVIDENCE FROM OFFICIALS AQIS

The parliamentary inquiry into the potential benefits of agricultural trade reform will continue a series of public hearings by taking evidence from officials of the Department of Primary Industries and Energy.

The Standing Committee on Primary Industries, Resources and Rural and RegionalAffairs, chaired by Fran Bailey MP, will hold a public hearing at 10.00 am on Wednesday 25 March in Committee Room 1R3.

For comment on the Committee's inquiry contact Fran Bailey 6277 4280

For information about the hearing contact the Committee Secretariat on 6277 4500

[15] - 22 June 1998

NOT ENOUGH BEING DONE TO CAPTURE TRADE OPPORTUNITIES

The Federal Government and industry leaders need to improve their efforts to inform the public and grassroots farmers of the opportunities arising from trade liberalisation, Fran Bailey, Chair of a national inquiry into agricultural trade reform, said today.

"We need changes to the way government supports its export objectives for agricultural industries, we need a stronger export culture among our producers and we need to aggressively pursue the removal of trade barriers in our overseas markets," Fran Bailey said.

The report of the inquiry - by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Primary Industries, Resources and Rural and Regional Affairs - made 34 recommendations to improve Australia's position in the face of increasing agricultural trade liberalisation.

"A partnership approach between industry and government is required to keep the public informed on trade reform issues. Australians need to know, and deserve to know, the reasons for adjusting to liberalised markets".

Australia exports more than 70 per cent of our agricultural production and five times more primary products than it imports. But Australia still represents only one per cent of world trade in agriculture. A fair, global, rules-based trading system is vital for Australia as a small player in the world market.

From this inquiry "the Committee believes the growth in total employment in agriculture has been predominant in sectors which are capturing the benefits of trade liberalisation by expanding export activities."

300,000 net jobs were created through expansion in trade according to the Industry Commission.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advised the inquiry that the gain in wages and living standards that have resulted from tariff reductions is around $1,000 extra per year for each Australian family.

"Australian trade negotiators must be fully equipped with the necessary commercial resources and skills to confidently and aggressively pursue the removal of all trade barriers of significance to Australian interests.

"Information and transport technologies are bringing new opportunities for agricultural producers. Australia should no longer regard itself as 'down under' but as fully integrated into world markets.

"Australia also needs to be better prepared to manage biosecurity issues affecting trade. At the moment, industry and government are not well served by the current fragmented approach. A Minister for Biosecurity should be appointed with overall responsibility for the exclusion, eradication or effective management of unwanted pests and diseases in Australia."

Reverting to past protectionist policies would not increase wealth or jobs for Australians.

To ignore the opportunities of trade reform would force our producers to rely on selling their products into the local market. We should aggressively pursue the benefits of trade reform on behalf of all Australians.


Media inquiries: Fran Bailey MP Tel: 02 6277 4280

22 June 1998

 

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