• Transcript, E&OE
Topics: Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement; Net Zero Global Emissions.
10 February 2020

Simon Birmingham: It is an incredibly exciting day for Australian farmers, Australian businesses and the Australian economy that we are taking the final steps toward seeing the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement coming into force.

This agreement with Indonesia means Australian businesses get access to some 500,000 tonnes of grain, 575,000 head of cattle, 10,000 tonnes of oranges, education services, five Sydney Harbour Bridge worth of steel, financial services, tourism industry, all sorts of sectors will see improved access to the Indonesian market as a result of this agreement. So, doing this trade deal with Indonesia is going to be a boom and opportunity for our farmers, for our businesses and really step forward in terms of deepening the economic ties between Australia and Indonesia. One of our nearest neighbours, one of the world’s most populace countries, a fast growing economy and one in which we should seek to have far deeper economic relations than we’ve achieved in the past. And the Morrison Government is now going to deliver on that thanks to securing and implementing this agreement.

Question: Given our relationship with China has become more complicated in recent times, how important has our relationship with Indonesia become?

Simon Birmingham: Diversifying our markets is crucial all of the time to give farmers and businesses more choices as to where they send their export goods. Australia is an exporting country, and giving our businesses greater access to Indonesia on top of the access they have to Japan, to Korea, to China and working to securing more opportunities with the EU, the UK and others is crucial in terms of ensuring or farmers and businesses have the best opportunity to succeed.

Question: Has Australia’s trade with Indonesia underperformed to this point?

Simon Birmingham: Our economic relationship with Indonesia has been underdone in the past and this Agreement is an opportunity to correct that and to seize the opportunities that come with a rapidly growing middle class population in a vast nation like Indonesia that’s right on our doorstep.

Question: Renae Lawrence at the moment is calling on the government to help the remaining Bali Nine people who are still locked up in Indonesia to be released. Is your government going to be making any efforts to help that release?

Simon Birmingham: Our government takes our consular responsibilities seriously. The first message though, whenever these stories come up to Australians should be the reminder, you are responsible for your actions in other countries. The Australian Government cannot control the legal systems or processes applied in other nations. In terms of individual cases, our track record show and experience shows its best that we deal with these matters quietly, individually with those countries and that’s what gets the best outcomes for individual cases.

Question: Will Australia consider loosening visa requirements for Indonesian travellers?

Simon Birmingham: We’ll have a range of discussions with Indonesia today. Our comprehensive strategic partnership encompasses areas of countering violent extremism, cooperation on maritime matters, of course the trade agreement. But yes, we will talk to Indonesia about other matters that they wish to raise and our experience of previous trade agreements is that the need then for the easy flow of business people between our two countries will increase and there are a number of ways we can look to make sure that that is facilitated.

Question: How crucial is the timing of this? We’ve got coronavirus, we’ve got the bushfires, we’ve got the drought – we all know the economic impacts that that’s going to have. How crucial is the timing of this?

Simon Birmingham: This comes at a great time in terms of the confidence for Australian farmers and businesses that they’re going to have even more market access opportunities in the future, and a greater chance to diversify who they do business with, where they do business and to seize the opportunities of a growing market like Indonesia.

Question: How seriously is Australia considering adopting a [indistinct] net zero emissions by 2050?

Simon Birmingham: Under the Paris Agreement we’ve already made a commitment towards the global goal of seeing net zero global emissions in the second half of this century. We’re serious about not only meeting the 2030 targets we set, but exceeding them and investing and supporting the delivery of technology that will well and truly exceed those emissions. And it’s crucial that we play our role in global efforts towards that ultimate target of net zero.

Unidentified Speaker: Last one.

Question: If Zali Steggall’s private members bill does get up, would you support her bill of aiming for net zero emissions by 2050 if it went to a conscience vote?

Simon Birmingham: Well, the government’s already made commitments as part of the Paris Agreement towards immediate reduction of emissions in the period between now and 2030 and the total objective of global net zero emissions. We’re working not on bills of symbolism, but on policies of delivery when it comes to reducing our emissions.

Thanks guys.