SUBJECT/S: APEC, Malaysia agreement reports.

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT: G’day and welcome to Bankstown and welcome to Paul Keating Park. Particularly appropriate we’re here at Paul Keating Park, given we’ve got world leaders on the other side of the world talking about trade at APEC when it was Bob Hawke and Paul Keating who set up APEC and turned it into a leaders’ forum that has cut tariffs in half right across our region and boost trade and boost economic development right across the Asia-Pacific.

It’s the Labor Party that’s got the runs on the board when it comes to trade and the Labor Party that’s done the heavy lifting in ripping down those tariff walls that helped to create the economy we have today. First, with Whitlam in the ‘70s then Hawke and Keating in the ‘80s and in the ‘90s who cut tariffs and created new businesses and new jobs, better paid jobs and created 25 years of uninterrupted economic development.

We know we’re a trading nation. Trade is the key to Australia’s success, always has been. From the gold rush to wool to wheat to iron ore and now selling education services and financial services and all the rest to Asia.  Asia is the key to Australia’s success in the years ahead. There’ll be three billion middle class consumers north of us by 2030 and the key for Australia is making sure that we sell our products and our services to Asia – that we get our fair share of that market.

Now, the big cuts to tariffs, the unilateral decisions that Australia made, they’ve made a massive difference in making Australia competitive and ready to get access to that market, more than any bilateral trade agreement or regional trade agreement. Those things are still important though so the work that’s done at APEC over the weekend is very important.

There’s been talk about a trade agreement called the TPP. It’s now dead. Donald Trump gave the last rites to that agreement last week. But there’s the opportunity here to talk about a new trade agreement that involves all the 21 countries in APEC, including China and the United States, and I hope that serious work is done about that over the weekend.

I see that Malcolm Turnbull’s also had a crack at Bill Shorten in the last few hours. First, it’s pretty pathetic that a Prime Minister is on the other side of the world focussed on attacking on the Labor Party here, when he really should be focussed on representing Australia at APEC.

Second thing I’d say about this is this really shows that Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t get it. What the Labor Party has been talking about this week is the idea that before a company brings a worker in from overseas, first they should check and see if there’s an Aussie that can do the job. That’s not protectionism, that’s just common sense. And unfortunately, Malcolm Turnbull when he negotiated the TPP ripped that right away for six different countries. Now they’re the sort of things that make working class and middle class Australians really angry. When you’re negotiating these agreements you should be creating new jobs for Australians not trading them away.

Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Just on reports that the Government is considering making a deal with Malaysia, do you think that’s hypocritical given their position on the Malaysian solution?

CLARE: Well, we still don’t have any details but if they are signing up to an agreement with Malaysia then this just proves that Malcolm Turnbull really is a hypocrite. You’ll remember four years ago we tried to pass laws through the Parliament to make this happen and Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott and all the Liberals and Nationals voted against it. At the time there were tears in the Parliament, they said they could never do something like this. And now if they’re going to do exactly the same thing it just proves they’re a bunch of hypocrites.  Worse than that though, it proves that what they did four years ago was all about politics. And unfortunately since those laws failed to pass through the Parliament more than 600 people drowned at sea. 

JOURNALIST: Back on trade, do you think Malcolm Turnbull needs to take a stronger stance in negotiating trade deals?

CLARE: Well I think that he should. Now I see that Malcolm Turnbull has made the argument that he’s concerned about growing protectionism globally. But he hasn’t really named who he’s concerned about. It’s pretty obvious who he’s concerned about – that’s Donald Trump. He just doesn’t have the guts to say it. He spent all of last week trying to get close to the United States. If you look carefully at what he’s saying today he’s really attacking Donald Trump. He’s saying that the risk that he poses with 45 per cent tariffs on all Chinese goods, it could create retaliation by China and catapult the region into a trade war. That wouldn’t be good for Australia or the whole region.

JOURNALIST: So, as you mentioned he’s criticised Mr Shorten for demonising free trade by pushing [INAUDIBLE]. Is Labor being [INAUDIBLE]

CLARE: Well as I said before, it’s not protectionism to say that a company should check if there’s an Australian who can do the job before you bring someone in from overseas. That’s just common sense. That’s what the average Aussie would expect us to do. And the problem with Malcolm Turnbull is, as he’s been negotiating trade deals like the TPP, he’s been prepared to trade that right away from Australian workers as part of getting the deal. He shouldn’t do that.  Thanks very much.