Sky News AM Agenda with Laura Jayes

09 November 2023


Laura Jayes, Host: That’s where we leave Anthony Albanese, we will return to him if he takes some questions. Let's go to the Assistant Trade Minister, Tim Ayres. Tim, thanks so much for your time. It's been a pretty big week on the trade front, Anthony Albanese in the Cook Islands, of course, today. There is a view that kind of every time Anthony Albanese goes to Pacific Island nations like that, it costs taxpayers millions upon millions of dollars. What would you say to that?


Assistant Minister Tim Ayres: Well, the Prime Minister is acting in the national interest. There are a lot of things that the Prime Minister has to do, but one of the things that is absolutely fundamental is acting in the interests of Australian economic security and national security. And the last few weeks have seen the Prime Minister in the United States with President Biden, with influential figures in Washington, the Prime Minister in China engaging at the highest level dialogue that has happened between Australia and China since 2016, meeting, certainly, with the leadership in China to have dialogue, which is important, but also in Shanghai with 250 Australian exporters who would employ between them many, many thousands of Australians whose jobs rely upon the trade relationship. And now he's in the Cook Islands at the Pacific Island Forum, engaging with countries about the issues that go to regional security, regional cooperation, regional resilience, where questions around climate and energy are fundamental to the security of those countries and therefore to our own security. This is really important work for the country. And I understand that people point to the cost of these trips. Every dollar is well spent here. And I've heard some, of the sort of, snide attacks from some in the Coalition who should know better. This is the Prime Minister's job. He's doing it for Australia. It's absolutely in our national security interest and our economic security interest, and he's doing a very good job of it.


Laura Jayes: All right, just hold there for a moment, Tim. We're going to go back to the Cook Islands. The Prime Minister is now taking some questions.



Laura Jayes: That's Anthony Albanese, who's wrapped up that media conference there in the Cook Islands. Tim Ayres, the Trade Shadow, I should say, not the Shadow, the Assistant Trade Minister. Sorry, Tim, demoted you there from government. No news there. I just quickly want to ask you about China, and this is really important for our Australian exporters, because China have announced an end to the deep freeze officially. But what does that actually mean? And is it a sigh of relief on their words, or do we need to see action? And how long should that action take?


Assistant Minister Tim Ayres: Well, we still have some progress to make in terms of wine, in terms of lobster exports to China, and for beef from a number of Australian beef processing establishments. Now, we have a pathway forward that has been announced in terms of wine exports. That is a critical export, particularly for some regional economies, well north of a billion dollars worth of exports and many more, hundreds of millions of dollars of potential exports. It's a high quality Australian product that we offer to the world. There is, I can tell you, at official level and at every Ministerial engagement, continued focus on the remaining two areas, some at a technical level and some at a Ministerial level. Those issues have to be resolved. And, of course, Australia's approach here is, yes, we are going to continue to focus on normalising the trade relationships and, of course, diversifying our trade relationships and making sure that exporters have got a diversity of markets and that we're exporting a bigger range of products up the value chain around the world. And the reason for that is because regional, good, blue collar regional jobs rely upon those exports. Whether you're in the Clare Valley or the Barossa in South Australia or the Hunter Valley, those are important jobs for those economies. If you're in the meat industry in Casino, if you're a lobster operation on the east or west coast of Australia, those are important markets, and we are going to continue to pursue them because they're good jobs and economic opportunity that there is there.


Laura Jayes: Okay, sounds like a bit of water still needs to go under the bridge. But, Tim, we appreciate your time this morning.


Assistant Minister Tim Ayres: Plenty of work to do. Good on you, Laura. Thanks.