World Trade Organisation Meeting



About this Item
SpeakersSpeaker; Greene Mr Kevin; Carr Mr Bob
BusinessQuestions Without Notice


    WORLD TRADE ORGANISATION MEETING
Page: 6681


    Mr GREENE: My question without notice is to the Premier. What is the latest information on preparations for the upcoming World Trade Organisation meeting to be held in Sydney this week?

    Mr CARR: I could well ask why there is any suggestion of demonstrations against talks to free up world trade. It is appropriate that we talk about this issue with our friends from Korea being in the gallery today, because Australia, like Korea, is a great trading nation. Freer world trade enhances the living standards of our people. It is bewildering to me that protestors want to hold demonstrations against a meeting of trade Ministers from around the world, a meeting that is designed to achieve freer trade. Twenty per cent of Australia's gross domestic product [GDP] is generated by exports and trade accounts for nearly one-quarter of Australia's total income. In New South Wales exports are worth $37 billion per year. Our drought-affected farm families stand to benefit, perhaps more than any other section of the community, from a more open approach to world trade. There ought to be demonstrations of welcome to visiting world trade Ministers discussing liberation from unnecessary trade barriers.

    The 2000 World Trade Organisation study called "Trade, Income Disparity and Poverty" concluded that trade liberalisation is generally a strongly positive contributor to poverty alleviation. As Bill Clinton said in one of his speeches in Australia and at Davos, the best impact we can make on the poverty in African villages is to open up the markets of rich countries to the Africans' primary produce. If they get the most modest access to the markets of North America and Europe, then their living standards are transformed. The ability to export their bananas, rice and grains to the markets of wealthy countries is the greatest transforming influence on third world poverty.

    We all believe in the freedom to demonstrate. I can understand a new generation of energetic young people wanting to become involved in and raise issues. It is a little like the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai strutting his leadership potential a moment ago. It was good to see and it was rather touching. I could see the blood beginning to course through his leadership veins again as he sensed an opening. Not to be overlooked is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition who, sensing the same opening, the same lingering possibility of leadership, has been forceful at the despatch box.

    Mr Tink: Frank Sartor.

    Mr CARR: He did very well in the Sun-Herald poll. I think that Frank did better in the Sun-Herald poll than the honourable member for Epping would do in a poll in his electorate. Also not to be overlooked is our old friend the honourable member for Willoughby, who I am told phoned Liberal Party head office today to withdraw his withdrawal from Liberal Party preselection. That is a wise decision. They all have to be available. They are all walking the beat, waiting to be taken up. The Leader of the Opposition is having extensive consultations with the lawyers at the moment. He is asking them, "What is the meaning of this?

    Mr Hartcher: Point of order: The question was a statesman-like question along the lines of questions about stem cell research, terrorism and all those other important State matters that the Premier likes to talk about. The question is about globalisation and trade. The Premier should answer the question. He should try to answer a question in this Parliament.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! No point of order is involved.

    Mr CARR: The Leader of the Opposition, who is in difficulty, is out there talking to his lawyers and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is in here showing the stuff he is made of. He gave a great performance. We hope he does well. Enough of these distractions! Our Korean friends want to hear the view of the Parliament and the Government on world trade. I ask for no more distractions from the Opposition. The public gallery is bewildered by an Opposition that wants to talk about its own problems when we want to talk about initiatives for the people of New South Wales. What do the demonstrators propose? Do they want us to go back to higher tariffs and poor regulation? Do they want us to start blocking out the imported products that lift the living standards of our trade partners and give us a greater opportunity to sell Australian goods and services on the markets of the world?

    According to a World Bank report last year, the selfish farm subsidies of rich nations are worth $700 billion—that is $1 billion per day. It is altogether fitting and appropriate that world trade Ministers come together—and we welcome them to Sydney—to talk about ways of freeing up world trade. We have spoken with regret in this House at the United States Congress' passage of the new farm bill and an increase of $US8 billion in agricultural subsidies. Anything that advances the course of more open markets benefits Australian living standards, and particularly the living standards of Australian farm families who are doing it tough at this moment. With that US-type protectionism on textiles, developing countries face average tariffs of 15 to 20 per cent, compared with 3 per cent for industrial goods. This reduces their living standards and their capacity to buy from us, which has a damaging impact on our living standards. We welcome this meeting. The New South Wales Police will facilitate legitimate protests. In a democracy, a protest that involves placards and shouted slogans is an advertisement for our liberties. The police will be at pains to facilitate such demonstrations. As Police Commander Dick Adams said yesterday:
        People who wish to protest peacefully and lawfully at Homebush Bay will naturally be able to do so. Not only will we allow it, we will facilitate it.

    That shows great spirit. That is the approach the New South Wales Police will take. Police have allocated an area for peaceful protest action. The accusation of some groups is that we live in a police State. On the contrary, our police force is actively making plans not only to permit but also to facilitate peaceful protest. I am concerned with the militarily-style preparations of some of these fringe protest organisations. There is advice on websites to protesters to use baseball bats and slingshots against police, "the use of spray or can paint on pigs". Two years ago we saw the use of marbles against the police force in Melbourne at the meeting of the Davos forum.

    [Interruption]

    If the honourable member for Vaucluse has an interjection he should speak up. I cannot hear him and the House cannot hear him. The honourable member should try to use his voice to command the attention of his parliamentary colleagues, especially if he is going to be a candidate for the Liberal Party leadership. That is touching. The honourable member for Vaucluse got upset because I mentioned the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for Willoughby. He is sitting there seething with frustration that he did not get a mention. I hope he is happy now that I have acknowledged his claim on the Liberal leadership.

    I want to say, despite the incomprehensible interjections from the Opposition, that organisations that espouse humanitarian values and animal protection yet advocate violence against police men and women and cruelty to police horses are hypocritical. The radical element that has no concern for public or personal safety is doing no-one and no cause-certainly not the cause of free protest in a democracy—any favours. The threats of violence emanating from extremists are the reason NSW Police has denied permits for marches in the city.

    Three messages are appropriate in this circumstance. First, NSW Police has our full support while officers are facilitating peaceful demonstrations and protecting property and safety. Theirs is a difficult job when they face provocateurs and they deserve our support. Second, peaceful protests will not only be permitted but also facilitated, because they are an advertisement for democracy. Violent protest is a breach of the law and will be treated as such. Protest organisers are responsible for their protests and they will be held to account. Third, free trade will help the world's poor; it will help the developing countries of the planet. It is selfish trade barriers erected by the United States and the European Union that keep those nations poor and dependent on aid when they could be, village by village, dependent on trade. Protestors should support the World Trade Organisation's efforts to give the world's poor a fair go.