Transcript of Interview, Sky News Australia, AM Agenda

Interview

BPC023/2014

08 April 2014

Government's RAAF plane grounded in Tokyo after a technical malfunction, Free trade agreements, Japan will lower tariffs on fresh beef exports from Australia to 23.5 percent

Kieran Gilbert: We're live now to Adelaide. The Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Jamie Briggs is with me this morning.

Jamie Briggs, before we get to the detail of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA)…a significant development there, a little bit of a hiccup this morning with that plane and a large group of business delegates stranded, as well as some grumpy journalists apparently.

Jamie Briggs: That will give the journalists something to write about, Kieran. Hiccups happen unfortunately and obviously safety is paramount when it comes to aircraft so obviously all due caution is taken when you've got such important people on the plane. We would expect nothing else of the professionalism of the Australian Airforce.

Kieran Gilbert: Let's look at the Free Trade Agreement. How much will this be worth? What's the Government's view on that?

Jamie Briggs: This is enormous. This is utterly enormous. It's a breakthrough for Australia. It's the first country…agricultural exporting country…that Japan has done an agreement such as this with. This is a boom for our agricultural sector, such an important sector to our country, our food producers will have the opportunity to take advantage of this extra market…a huge market, a matured market…so we've already got very strong links into Japan as it is. This will just help strengthen those and allow more of our products.

For beef producers, after what they've been through over the few years, this is a good day for them, a really good day for them. A really good day for our country…a great day for consumers…cheaper products, which will make the cost of living for families…it will bring it down. It will mean more jobs as well. It is exactly what the government said we would do. It's part of our plan. We will live within our means and we will have more to say about that on May 13 and we'll grow the economy by building the infrastructure of the 21st Century and we will deliver on these types of free trade agreements. This is Prime Minister Abbott getting on with the job that we promised the Australian people we would do last September.

Kieran Gilbert: Minister, some cattle producers…it's been largely positively responded to obviously…welcomed by most…but some cattle producers are saying…and the National Farmers Federation (NFF) wanted the Government to push for no tariff on beef, for example. What do you say in response to some of those criticisms…that the Government should have gone for zero tariff?

Jamie Briggs: I say good on the NFF. They should argue hard for Australian farmers. Australian farmers deserve the most access they can get. The freer the trade, the better. The freer the trade, the better and the NFF is right to argue that.