Bill's Transcripts

CNBC: Visit to China; Australia-China relationship -






SUBJECT/S: Visit to China; Australia-China relationship; Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank; Australian Mining Industry


MATTHEW TAYLOR: -Bill Shorten saying Australia signing on, of course they only did it at the 11th hour, is better late than never, those were the words. He’s been visiting China in his first visit to that country as Opposition Leader, meeting with business leaders, he went to the Boao Forum, also meeting with Government representatives as well, and he says the relationship between Australia and China is a strong one. I spoke to him late yesterday just before he left Beijing, and started by asking him about the free trade agreement signed between Australia and China last year, and what the relationship’s like between Australia and China which is of course our biggest trading partner, take a listen.    


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: The actual document hasn’t been signed and we need to see the text, but I think it does present opportunities in services, in some parts of agriculture, it’s a bilateral market access agreement and I think it’s viewed as another step forward, but of course the people in China understand that we need to see the final text of the agreement. But it is all in the, the relationship between Australia and China is all in the right direction. I think there’s great consciousness that iron ore and commodity prices are coming down as a result to China moving more away from an investment economy to a consumption economy, but I think people appreciate that both here and in Australia that this provides new opportunities for both countries and business in both countries


TAYLOR: I just want to touch on what’s going on with the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank, of course we’re still waiting for the final word for Australia to join this development or join this bank. You guys have been a supporter for some months, so why do you think it’s taken so long for the Australian Government to get involved and is that something that’s been raised with you whilst you’ve been in China as well?   


SHORTEN: Well to be fair if the Australian Government’s finally decided to come on board I would say as Leader of the Opposition, better late than never. But of course we’ve now moved at a time when other nations a lot further away from China are coming on board so I guess it leaves one scratching one’s head about why it’s taken our government so long, but the point is we’re now at the right outcome. Again, I think China’s pleased that Australia wants to be in at the ground floor, I have to say that whilst there are plenty of issues raised in Australia from time to time, the overall impression I get is that Australia enjoys a very positive reputation in China. This is partly historical, Australia’s been an early mover with the growth of China.


TAYLOR: I was actually in Hong Kong last week at a mining conference and Gina Rinehart was speaking and told the audience there that Australia if it wants to be more competitive on a global stage should reduce the burden on business and onerous regulations especially in the mining space and especially in Australia which produces commodities at a higher cost than other countries. Is Gina Rinehart right?


SHORTEN: Well Gina Rinehart’s got long stated views about these matters and it sounds like she was stating them again. I think the success story for Australian mining in terms of exporting to China is one which shouldn’t be understated. When I look at the volumes of production, the Rio Tinto, the BHP Billiton, the Fortescue and others delivering in terms of improved output whilst commodity prices are down these companies and the decision in investments they made between 2006 and 2012 have set the volume of minerals production up for Australia pretty favourably. We’ve now got to move I think to greater productivity, we’ve got to understand that the transition to the non-mining sector is difficult but it’s underway. We’ve got a big services story to tell in Australia and that should be I think our focus along with mining, but Ms Rinehart’s got her views, they’re quite well known, she’s a successful mine owner. What I would say though on balance is as we move to a non-mining economy we should be grateful for the contribution that mining has made and will make to production levels in Australia. I think the challenge now is how we value that and the rest of what we do from education to health care to financial services and agriculture, and plenty of other industries as well as those.