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FTAs 'not possible' without cuts to industry assistance: Hockey

03 December, 2014

The signing of free-trade agreements with China and South Korea wouldn't have been possible had the government not made 'tough' decisions to reduce car industry assistance, Treasurer Joe Hockey has said.

At the time Holden and Toyota made the announcement they would bring to an end Australian operations, the government asserted its election commitment to cut $500 million in industry assistance did not influence the automakers' decision.

In a recent interview, Hockey backed the government's decision to end the "age of entitlement for industry".

"There would not have been any free-trade agreements if we hadn't made the hard decisions about industry assistance," he said.

"So there would have been no free-trade agreements if Labor were elected."

During parliamentary question time he said: "(The decision to cut industry assistance) needed to be made because as a result of that decision we were able to get free-trade agreements with Korea, Japan and China."

Shadow Minister for Industry Kim Carr along with Shadow Minister for Trade and Investment Penny Wong, in response to the Treasurer's recent comments, said it was alarming "support for Australian jobs was used as a bargaining chip for the Abbott government's trade negotiations".

They said: "Trade Minister Andrew Robb and Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane must outline … what industry assistance has been traded away by the Abbott government in the pursuit of trade agreements."

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TRC | Wednesday, December 3, 2014, 12:18 PM
Free Trade Agreements will kill off the manufacturing industry in Australia. As a manufacturer, it is tough enough to compete against all the countries like China etc with their cheap imports without making it tougher by removing the import duties on their product. This makes the imported product even cheaper whereas our cost to manufacture remain the same. I agree it may benefit exporters, however in the long term it will damage Australia. I vote no unless real benefits to Australia and her manufacturers are shown. So far, I see nothing. How many manufacturers have gone to the wall trying to compete against cheap imports. How about we support our own manufacturing industry and not other countries manufacturing industries, just once in my lifetime.
Ken Goldsmith | Wednesday, December 3, 2014, 2:36 PM
FTAs have not served us well so far. A LOT of our cars come from Thailand, but the Thais manage to stack the deck such that the Ford Explorer sold here for from $30k-ish, cost over $100k equivalent in Thailand. We allow foreign Governments to buy land, farms, businesses, almost unchecked, but we can not buy land AT ALL in most of those countries. We already have trouble getting tax out of foreign companies, (Apple, IKEA, etc.) this will make it much worse. Both major Aus political parties subscribe to FTAs. A pox on both their houses!