MALCOLM Turnbull has strayed from the script in his first significant speech of 2018 to highlight the government’s economic growth agenda and the critical role of farming and farm exports, during an event at Toowoomba today in regional Queensland.
The Prime Minister Turnbull released his speech to media ahead of the regional appearance which aimed to highlight business tax cuts and legislation to reduce the rate to 25 per cent when parliament re-starts next week.
But he went beyond that core message, to extol agriculture’s place in the national economy.
“Of course it's not enough to just have good policies,” he said.
“Those policies have got to work together towards a common goal.
“Our commitment to free trade is a great example.
“Our trade deals have helped Australian businesses export to new markets worth trillions of dollars.
“We've also cut business tax so they can take advantage of those opportunities, by investing and hiring.
“Australian workers, farmers and businesses are already reaping the rewards of our trade deals with China, Korea and Japan.
“Last year we signed another one with Peru.
“We have reinvigorated talks with India and this year we're focused on completing a deal with Indonesia.
“None of this is easy, by the way, as those that have been involved in trade negotiations in the past.
“Last week, we agreed to the 11 nation Trans-Pacific Partnership.
“Remember all those people who said it was dead when the Americans pulled out?
“We stuck with it - and now it's agreed.
“That's a deal that opens the door to markets worth $14 trillion, massive new opportunities.
“Exports continue to grow apace and in particular agricultural exports are up by 20.3 per cent over the past year, much of that growth from here on the Darling Downs of course.
“Barnaby (Joyce) is a former Agriculture Minister - so am I, actually, only for five weeks.
“But Barnaby always said it was a ‘golden era’ - he's being very generous.”
Mr Turnbull also spoke about landing at the Wagner family's Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport, calling it a “remarkable achievement” that’s opening up new markets for passengers and products throughout Australia and the region.
“What vision and what timing have the Wagners shown,” he said.
“For more than a year now, Cathay Pacific has been running a weekly 747 cargo service from Wellcamp to Hong Kong, taking up to 60 tonnes a week of Australian goods and produce to markets in China and beyond.
“As we continue to pursue free trade agreements with our neighbors in the Asia-Pacific, the markets for products that can use Wellcamp as a gateway to our region will continue to grow.
“One company that's grasped this opportunity is Oakey Beef Exports, about 30km west of here.
“What started as a trial of flying fresh meat from Wellcamp to Hong Kong has now become a regular trade.
“With new markets opening up, Oakey has invested $30 million and is on track to more than double its throughput to 575,000 head a year, by next year sending Darling Downs produce to 36 countries around the world.
“The company employs 750 local workers, increasing to about 1300 over the next few years.
“As the general manager Pat Gleeson says - the company and farmers that supply it, are enormously excited about the TPP, which will for the first time, allow them to break into markets such as Mexico, with its population of 120 million.”
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