Abbott’s Advice on Trade Another Warning Shot to Turnbull

Tony Abbott has delivered another warning shot to the divided and dysfunctional Turnbull Government – this time on trade.

Tony Abbott’s gratuitous advice to Malcolm Turnbull on the direction Australia should take on trade with the UK is another part of his job application to the conservative right of the Coalition.

Australia is a trading nation and our trading relationships are too important to our economy to be used as a pawn in the Liberal Party’s leadership games.

His comments also highlight how little the Turnbull Government has delivered on trade.

Despite promising to deliver five trade agreements last year, the Turnbull Government failed to finalise even one.

Apart from the now-dead Trans-Pacific Partnership, the following agreements were supposed to have been finalised by the end of 2016:

  • Australia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (promised by 2015) (Austrade media release, 6 February 2015)
  • Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) (G20 Trade Ministers Meeting Statement, 13 July 2016)
  • Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus (Special Forum Trade Ministers Meeting – Outcomes Document, 26 August 2016)
  • Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) (Minister Ciobo Doorstop: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting, 17 November 2016)

Australia’s agreement with India, for example, was supposed to have been delivered by 2015. At the time, then Trade Minister Andrew Robb said:

            “I will keep coming back to India to ensure we get our negotiations over this line this year.”

             (Minister Robb Media Release, 16 January 2015)

Now the Prime Minister can only say he has “high hopes” of finalising the agreement next year (AAP, 14 December 2016).

Despite campaigning on the delivery of jobs growth, our economy has gone backwards and 46,000 full-time jobs have been lost in 2016.

Malcolm Turnbull should stop squabbling with Tony Abbott to keep his job and focus on delivering Australian jobs.