Portfolio Releases

MORRISON MUST END SUPPORT FOR PALMER BORDER CHALLENGE

27 July 2020

The Morrison Government must withdraw its support for Clive Palmer’s legal challenge to Western Australia’s interstate border closure.

 

The three-day trial begins today in the Federal Court, with Mr Palmer and the Commonwealth arguing that WA’s border must re-open despite the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the eastern states.

 

It beggars belief that Scott Morrison and WA’s Liberal MPs, led by Attorney-General Christian Porter, are supporting legal action by a dodgy businessman that, if successful, could endanger the health of West Australians.

 

At the weekend, Mr Palmer described the coronavirus crisis as a “media beat-up” and claimed the symptoms of the illness were no worse than a cold.

 

These comments are a disgrace to the memory of hundreds of thousands of people around the world who have died during this pandemic.

 

He may think it’s a beat-up, but the virus is tragically real to the families suffering with the illness and grieving the death of loved ones.

 

The Morrison Government is only encouraging these comments by backing Mr Palmer.

 

WA Premier Mark McGowan has called on Scott Morrison to withdraw from the court challenge, but he has so far refused.

 

The Prime Minister’s decision to lend his support appears even more ridiculous given his support for the closure of the Victoria-NSW border.

 

And it smacks of hypocrisy after he cancelled the next scheduled sitting of Parliament due to the health risks of MPs and staff travelling to Canberra.

 

Labor calls on the Government to withdraw from the case before hearings begin today.

INDONESIA TRADE DEAL MUST NOT BECOME A WASTED OPPORTUNITY

06 July 2020

Labor calls on the Morrison Government and the Australian business community to take full advantage of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) which came into force yesterday.
 
The launch of this agreement is a unique opportunity to strengthen our economic engagement with Indonesia, which has languished under the Liberals since 2013.
 
Labor believes Australia’s relationship with Indonesia – which is forecast to become the world’s fourth biggest economy by 2050 – is central to our security and prosperity.
 
That is why the former Labor government initiated negotiations in 2012 for an Indonesia-Australia economic partnership.
 
But these negotiations stalled for several years when the Coalition came to office.
 
Australia’s trading relationship with Indonesia has since gone backwards.
 
Unfortunately, we are now seeing further signs that the Government does not take seriously the relationship with Indonesia.
 
The Government is ignoring requests to provide emergency funding to the Australian Consortium for ‘In-Country’ Indonesian Studies (ACICIS), an organisation that has played a key role for 25 years in forging closer relations between Australia and Indonesia.
 
This is occurring at a time that we need to boost people-to-people links and deepen our understanding of Indonesia.
 
This new agreement between Australia and Indonesia should help to address an economic relationship that is badly underdone.
 
Indonesia has a population of 260 million people and is one of Australia’s closest neighbours. It is poised to become a global economic powerhouse. Yet it accounts for only around 2 per cent of Australia’s exports.
 
When IA-CEPA came before Parliament last year, Labor supported it because we believe it will create jobs, generate economic growth and raise living standards.
 
Labor also secured commitments from the Government to ensure that the implementation of IA-CEPA would safeguard Australian jobs and address the exploitation of foreign workers
 
The agreement has since become even more significant to both countries given the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

GOVERNMENT FAILS TO COME THROUGH FOR FRIEND IN NEED

02 July 2020

SENATOR PENNY WONG
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY IN THE SENATE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
LABOR SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA
 
MADELEINE KING MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE
MEMBER FOR BRAND

 

Labor has written to the Foreign Minister and Education Minister, urging the Morrison Government to provide emergency funding to an organisation that has played a key role in forging closer relations between Australia and Indonesia for the past 25 years.

 

Just days before the launch of a major trade agreement with Indonesia, the Government should demonstrate its commitment to the bilateral relationship by ensuring the survival of the Australian Consortium for ‘In-Country’ Indonesian Studies (ACICIS).
 
More than 3,500 students have studied in Indonesia through ACICIS since 1995.
 
The Perth-based consortium’s revenue has taken a significant hit because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, with staff laid off in both Australia and Indonesia.
 
It has written to the Morrison Government to ask for a financial lifeline.
 
In February, Scott Morrison and President Widodo recognised education helps to create greater understanding and acts as a springboard for an even broader partnership between our two countries.
 
Once again, the Morrison Government is showing it is good at the talk – but not so good at delivering.
 
The relationships forged through these student placements will be central to the future of Australia’s economic relationship with Indonesia, a nation that must become a key plank of our trade diversification strategy.
 
Labor believes the Government should be encouraging Australians to study Indonesian language at school and university.
 
The Australian Government has previously stepped up to assist ACICIS in times of crisis, including in 2002 and 2003.
 
It would do our relationship with Indonesia a terrible disservice if the Government failed to once again come through for this important organisation in its time of need.


TAXPAYERS NEED ANSWERS ON MORRISON’S $10 MILLION LOGO SPEND

02 July 2020

The Morrison Government must explain why taxpayers have been billed up to $10 million for a new national brand logo that one of its own MPs describes as “a cross between the coronavirus and bird poo”.
 
It emerged yesterday that Trade Minister Simon Birmingham approved a report by the National Brand Advisory Council which rejected the kangaroo as our global product symbol even though it is “the most internationally recognisable”.
 
Instead, the council recommended using the image of a wattle, which it described as an “optimistic burst of gold positivity” with “pollen-laden stamens radiating a sense of energy and dynamism”.
 
Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce said today the decision to sideline the kangaroo was a “dippy idea”, describing the wattle as “a cross between the coronavirus and bird poo on your windscreen at 80km an hour.”
 
The report notes that the design was “market tested” to 16,000 people in China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, the US and the UK, and was reviewed by international semiotics experts.
 
Tender documents show that the Government paid an advertising agency about $3 million to come up with the new logo.
 
Additionally, the Austrade annual report for 2018-19 shows the Government paid a market research firm more than $420,000 in that year alone.
 
Austrade allocated a total of $3.2 million for the development of a “new national brand” in 2018-19.
 
Media reports suggest the whole exercise has cost taxpayers $10 million.
 
Labor calls on Senator Birmingham to explain how taxpayers are receiving value for money.