Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinMinister for Foreign Affairs): I will make a brief opening statement. I am accompanied by my colleague the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment. Australia is currently confronted by an uncertain and complex international environment. Challenges include international terrorism, conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine, relative shifts in global economic and military power to Asia, and a growing protectionist sentiment that risks undermining global prosperity.

The 2016-17 budget is part of the Australian government’s plan to strengthen Australia’s national security, promote prosperity and advance our interests as a liberal democracy and an open, export-led economy. The Australian government is investing more than $9 million to continue the people smuggling and human trafficking task force, which is playing a key role in support of Operation Sovereign Borders and has restored the integrity of Australia’s border protection system after the six years of abject policy failure by the then Rudd-Gillard Labor government.

We are also investing over $6 million to establish Australia’s first cyber ambassador and a cybersecurity program to fight cybercrime, one of the new frontiers of security challenges we face. The government have committed nearly $40 million to open two new diplomatic missions in China and Papua New Guinea to strengthen bilateral ties, increase market access for Australian businesses and enhance our ability to provide consular assistance to Australians travelling and working overseas.

Since the budget was handed down, the government has announced a further $58 million over four years to expand Australia’s overseas diplomatic presence. The government is committed to ensuring that Australia’s diplomatic network matches our standing as one of the world’s top 20 countries with global interests.

We have strengthened our ability to respond to emerging overseas events, such as terror attacks and natural disasters, by establishing a Global Watch Office within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to monitor and respond to developments on a 24-hour basis.

The government will continue to deliver an aid program that is effective and affordable. In 2016-17 Australia will invest $3.8 billion on official development assistance, making us the 12th largest donor among the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development comparable economies.

We have committed an additional $220 million over three years to address humanitarian needs in Syria and surrounding countries and $100 million for gender equality programs and the innovation exchange that is developing new, exciting solutions to intractable development problems in our region. The budget continues our commitments to other key government priorities, including the new Colombo Plan, which is supporting Australian undergraduates to undertake short- and long-term studies, internships and work placements in 40 countries across the Indo-Pacific. By the end of 2017, more than 17,500 students will have lived, studied and worked in our region under the new Colombo Plan that was only established in 2014 after we came to office.

Trade, tourism and investment have played a key role in Australia’s 25 years of consecutive, uninterrupted economic growth. We have delivered a trifecta of free trade agreements with the North Asia powerhouse economies. Just last week, the amended Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement was signed. In the first year of operation, our agreements with Korea and Japan have delivered real benefits for our economy, including the agriculture sector. The value of Australian exports of fresh beef to Japan increased by 22 per cent to just over $1 billion. Exports of bottled wine to Korea increased 53 per cent. China’s imports of fresh Australian lobster between January and March were triple those of 12 months ago.

The 2016-17 budget is part of the Australian government’s plan to provide Australian businesses with preferential market access and encourage utilisation of the agreements we have secured. As the minister at the table knows, the government has committed $16.6 million to continue to drive jobs and economic growth through trade and investment. Through the government’s ambitious trade agenda, led by the Minister for Trade, Investment and Tourism, the government is ensuring that Australian businesses will have a significant advantage in capturing gains from the growth in Asia’s middle-class. The government is connecting businesses with export markets through the online portal seminar series, training provider grants and professional services mutual recognition. The 2016-17 budget supports the government’s ongoing efforts to advance Australia’s national interests in an uncertain and complex global environment.

Chamber Federation Chamber on 19/10/2016 Item Federation Chamber – BILLS – Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2016-2017 – Consideration in Detail Speaker: Bishop, Julie, MP/ Parliment Transcript used for Reporting the Truth in News