Bills: Customs Amendment (Growing Australian Export Opportunities Across the Asia-Pacific) Bill 2019, Customs Tariff Amendment (Growing Australian Export Opportunities Across the Asia-Pacific) Bill 2019 - In Committee

26 November 2019

Senator Patrick: 

I move amendments (1) and (2) on sheet 8814 together:

(1) Clause 2, page 2 (table item 1), omit "Sections 1 to 3", substitute "Sections 1 to 4".

(2) Page 3 (after line 11), after clause 3, add:

4 Impact of bilateral and regional trade agreements on Australia ' s trade and economic performance—Productivity Commission inquiry

(1) By the day after this section commences, the Productivity Minister must, under Part 3 of the Productivity Commission Act 1998, refer to the Productivity Commission for inquiry the following matters:

(a) the contribution of Australia's bilateral and regional trade agreements to reducing trade and investment barriers and safeguarding against the introduction of new barriers;

(b) the impact of trade agreements on trade flows, investment returns and productivity growth, employment and labour markets, and the development of manufacturing and value‑added export industries;

(c) any related matters.

(2) In referring the matter to the Productivity Commission for inquiry, the Productivity Minister must:

(a) under paragraph 11(1) (a) of the Productivity Commission Act 1998, require the Productivity Commission to hold hearings for the purposes of the inquiry; and

(b) under paragraph 11(1) (b) of that Act, specify the period ending 12 months after this section commences as the period within which the Productivity Commission must submit its report on the inquiry; and

(c) under paragraph 11(1) (d) of that Act, require the Productivity Commission to make recommendations in relation to the matters referred to in subsection (1).

Note: Under section 12 of the Productivity Commission Act 1998, the Productivity Minister must cause a copy of the Productivity Commission's report to be tabled in each House of the Parliament.

(3) The Productivity Minister must not withdraw the reference before the Productivity Minister has received the report.

(4) For the purposes of paragraph 6(1) (a) of the Productivity Commission Act 1998, the matters mentioned in subsection (1) are taken to be matters relating to industry, industry development and productivity.

(5) In this section, Productivity Minister means the Minister administering the Productivity Commission Act 1998.

Centre Alliance's amendments will insert a schedule into the bill to amend the Productivity Commission Act 1998 to require a wideranging and independent inquiry by the commission into the impacts of Australia's bilateral and regional trade agreements. The last Productivity Commission inquiry on free trade agreements was almost a decade ago. We've now signed and ratified a dozen FTAs, we have three more before the parliament now and DFAT lists another seven agreements under negotiation, and of course there is also the prospect of an Australia-UK free trade agreement. The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties has recommended that new agreements be subject to review by the Productivity Commission. However, we clearly need a broad inquiry to look at the big picture and to look at our existing free trade agreements and their impact and at what the future holds in an uncertain international trading environment. The amendment will set such an inquiry in train.

I understand that Labor are going to vote against this amendment; if they indicate that, I won't call a division.

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