Exports Economy Grievance
You can find the transcript below:
I rise today to talk about my deep concerns for our export economy. The crisis that faces us is significant and it will impact South Australian jobs. Let's remind ourselves that exports have always been the backbone of our economy. You simply have to look at the symbolism here in the house: on our very carpet before us are wheat and grapes.
Exports are incredibly important. They employ 79,000 South Australians—79,000 South Australians are employed in export-related jobs. We have significant export areas of success: obviously wine, education, metals, meat and wheat. Let's also remind ourselves that $2 billion worth of wine is exported from South Australia—$2 billion. When there are trade tensions and confusion, it is often the workers and the owners of businesses, the innocent bystanders, who are affected. This is what we are seeing now with this dramatic increase in tariffs on our wine to China.
I spent a lot of the summer reaching out and talking to stakeholders. I take the time to talk to people all over South Australia: 'What is the impact of this dramatic increase in tariffs? How will it affect you and your workers, your business?' There was a very clear message to me that even if you are a winery that does not export to China, you have been dramatically impacted because it has changed the whole scenario, where suddenly the market is flooded.
We have seen heavy discounting and we are seeing bulk purchase of wine. But, more seriously, what I heard was that contracts were being ripped up. Grapegrowers who had contracts for people to buy their grapes find those contracts cancelled. What people are worried about is their cash flow and how they are going to pay their bank loans, and of course those who are still reliant on JobKeeper know that it is ending in March.
At the end of last year, I asked the government questions about this. I raised my concerns from as early as August 2020 about what we were going to do about this looming impact on our wine industry. Is the state government even concerned about the impact? What is the response of the government to this impact? What is the government going to do? Not only have the government not given me a satisfactory answer to any of these questions but they are not giving answers to the people out there being hurt by this. They have written to the state government and said to them, 'We need your help.' They have not received anything to satisfy them that this is a concern.
We know that there is no plan. We know that the government does not have a sense of urgency to support people here. But let me be clear about how much of an impact this has. Last year, when we look at the Australian red wine exports to China, in October we exported $159.9 million worth to China and in December it was $3.3 million. That is jobs. That is South Australian jobs that are going to disappear because of that decrease in exports. My question to the government is: what are you going to do to market our wineries? What are you going to do to provide economic support? Where is your leadership?