Sky News AM Agenda with Laura Jayes

30 May 2024


LAURA JAYES, HOST: Let's go back to Canberra now, because that's where the good news of the day has emerged from. And the good news is for beef producers, because there's been a trade ban in place for almost five years and that has been lifted, effective immediately. Joining me now is Assistant Trade and Manufacturing Minister, Tim Ayres. Tim, great to see you. Effective immediately, what does that mean exactly?

SENATOR TIM AYRES: Well, it means that at these five beef abattoirs all around the country, that they can start filling orders straight away. It is, indeed, very good news. One of the facilities, the northern meats cooperative in Casino, I know that facility very well. My father used to deliver beef cattle to that abattoir from the little property that I grew up on. I know what it means for workers there. I know what it means for the beef cattle farming community and for those towns. It's going to have a very significant positive impact in meat processing around Australia and build confidence for future investments and future employment.

LAURA: Give us an idea of what this means for the other smaller producers, because this, as I understand it, it takes into account five exporters. So, it's the start, a very good start. But how does China usually work here? Do they announce this in a tiered approach? Is there good news coming down the track soon for these other producers?

SENATOR AYRES: Well, there is still progress that is required to be made, and that's the important thing to make very clear here. We've made very good progress, not just in terms of beef, but across a whole range of agricultural and commodity categories. And that's led to not just those impediments being steadily dismantled as the government's worked in a calm and effective way that's calculated in the national interest on these questions, but it's led to a significant uplift in agricultural production and exports for Australian exporters. There is still, I hasten to add, progress that needs to be made, particularly in lobster exports. So, there is still work to do and that is going to require consistent, continued application at both official and Ministerial level. And that work will continue. But it does mean for these very significant beef enterprises that they can start to fill orders and start exports back to China, back to the levels that they were before and hopefully beyond.

LAURA: Just back to your portfolio. I noticed Ed Husic earlier this week called on the company tax rate, that debate, to be revived, wanting that to be lower, particularly for manufacturing and robotics companies. That a good idea?

SENATOR AYRES: Well, we have announced in the budget the largest incentive package, the biggest pro-manufacturing package in Australian history, and it does involve using the tax system to deliver, in large part, production tax credits towards areas of either current or future comparative advantage to make sure that Australian manufacturing grows, that we re-industrialise parts of our regions and our economy. So, the government is using the tax system and we are using every incentive that is available at our disposal, to build a future made in Australia. That it is the biggest pro-manufacturing package, as I said, in Australian history, and it will lead to billions of dollars of investment in new industrial capability. And it's a big contrast to what we saw over the last decade, where energy policy uncertainty and hands off the wheels in terms of industry policy meant that there was disinvestment in Australian energy capability.

LAURA: What about your colleague's suggestion, particularly where he's got in his portfolio, robotics in mind? Is it a good idea? Is it something that you want Cabinet to consider?

SENATOR AYRES: Well, I just say, we have made announcements. That is what the Government’s-

LAURA: I know, but one of your colleagues has thrown this out there as well. So, that's what I'm asking you about.

SENATOR AYRES: Laura, I am absolutely delighted with the Future Made in Australia announcement. I'm absolutely delighted with the scope of it, what it offers for the kind of communities that I've grown up in and represented my whole life. This is a very significant advance and I'm absolutely delighted and keen to get on with the job of implementing this work, working with the investment community here in Australia and around the world with the best manufacturing and engineering capability that we can have, deployed in the regions that are going to grow from this. The regions where, particularly where there is existing energy capability, areas like the Hunter Valley, central Queensland, industrial areas in Victoria, northern Tasmania and Western Australia, and indeed how we engage in this in areas like Whyalla in South Australia. What this means is Australia moving up the value chain. It means building our own engineering capability, more jobs for school leavers in the trades. That is such an important thing for our regions.

LAURA:  So, you don't need to consider cutting the company tax rate?

SENATOR AYRES: We have made a very significant set of decisions here. It engages in the new competition. It's the biggest industry policy package, as I said, in Australian history. We are going to get on with it. That is what we've got to do.

LAURA: Sounds like a no. Ok, Tim Ayres, great to talk to you, as always.

SENATOR AYRES: Good to see you, Laura.