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Greater Effort by Turnbull Government Needed on ChAFTA

Posted on October 8, 2015 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (3)

It's nice that the Federal Government has taken out advertisements in the major Australian newspapers in support of the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA)

However, nice is just not good enough. The hard reality is the ChAFTA has been languishing for months in the Australian Parliament, whilst Australian exporters continue to miss out on trade deals with China due to the continuation of export tarfiffs and duties which many other countries exporters do not have to face.

That means the Australian economy is not performing as well as it ought, and industry sectors including agribusiness, coal, pharmacueticals and cosmetics, and services like finance and engineering, are not producing new jobs for Australians like they should.

New Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull must take the lead on getting the ChAFTA ratified by the Australian Parliament as a matter of urgency. Media advertising might help win the public over, but that is not where the problem lies. The problem sits with Bill Shorten and his Parliamentary Labor Party, who have blocked the passage of the ChAFTA.

Now is the time for Malcolm Turnbull to pick up the phone to Bill Shorten and to cross-bench MP's in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and to use his considerable powers of persuasion to get the ChAFTA endorsed by the Parliament.  Advertisements might be nice, but the ChAFTA is of such significance to Australia's future, it's time for real leadership.

Turnbull Cabinet Positive for Asia - Australia Economic Relationship

Posted on September 21, 2015 at 4:20 AM Comments comments (2)

The new Turnbull Cabinet will be positive for the economic relationship between Asia and Australia.

It is a balanced Cabinet, with Ministers from both the right and left wings of the Government, has experience, is younger and has a higher proportion of women.

The new Treasurer, Scott Morrison, has a track record as a good performer in difficult portfolios, and importantly is a good communicator to the broader public.

A key for the economic relationship with Asia is the retention of the very competent Andrew Robb in Trade and Investment and Julie Bishop in Foreign Affairs.

Of particular note are two new portfolios, International Development and The Pacific; and Resources, Energy and Northern Australia, given to two rising stars in the government, Stephen Ciobo and Josh Frydenberg respectively. Ciobo's portfolio will help government focus upon the Asia Pacific region and Frydenberg's will support industry sectors of importance to Asia - resources and agriculture.

The move of Water to The Nationals Barnaby Joyce's portfolio is an indication that the need for consistent productivity in Australian agriculture is also understood by the new govenrnent.

That said, the new Prime Minister must lead from the front in demonstrating that the Asia/Australia relationship is a priority for his government. His strong economic background would suggest that he would understand its importance to Australia's economic future. The ratification of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement must be his first priority in this regard.

He would do well to take a leaf out of Tony Abbott's book in terms of relationship building.  As Prime Minister, Abbott traveled extensively to our major Asian trading partners, and gave high priority to Free Trade Agreements and fora like the recent Bo'ao Forum held in Sydney.

These are early days, however the indications are that Malcolm Turnbull's new Cabinet has the right structure and the right personnel for the task ahead - to build upon the strong economic and cultural relationship with Asia, and particularly China.

New Government Good for Economy, Australia/China Business

Posted on September 18, 2015 at 8:15 PM Comments comments (2)

The new Federal Coalition Government led by Malcolm Turnbull will provide a much needed boost to the Australian economy, and will be positive for the Australia/China business relationship.

Whilst the Liberal/Nationals Government led by Tony Abbott had made significant strides on economic policy and towards strengthening the Australia/China relationship, particularly with the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), it failed to capture majority public support, as seen in a succession of polls on voting intentions.

In fact, the polls consistently pointed towards a Labor victory at the next Federal election, to be held before November 2016. This poor standing in the polls in turn weakened the then Prime Minister Abbott's standing within his own Party, leading to reports of dissatisfaction amongst his Members of Parliament, and general perceptions of instability within the Government.

This in turn lead to low levels of business and consumer confidence, reflected in weak economic growth in Australia.

The change of leadership to Malcolm Turnbull has already seen a significant improvement of the Coalition Government's standing in the polls and some early signs of improved business confidence.  This situation will help to reinforce the stability and therefore electoral popularity of the Turnbull Government, helping to further stimulate business and consumer confidence and therefore the broader Australian economy.

Of course, Governments require more than one term of office to implement their long term policy agendas, particularly when it comes to economic policy, so the strong likelihood that the Federal Coalition Government will have at least two (2) terms in office rather than just one (1), is a big positive for the Australian economy over the longer term.

This also applies to Australia's relationship with its largest trading partner, China. It is now very likely that the strengthening of the economic and cultural relationships pursued by both nations, as seen in the ChAFTA and other initiatives like direct currency conversion and Sydney's advent as an offshore trading hub in the RMB, will continue apace.

Had the Coalition lost the coming election as had been predicted in the polls prior to Malcolm Turnbull's elevation, it is likely that the strengthening of the China/Australia relationship would have lost pace. Former trade union leader Bill Shorten's Labor Party has been less than supportive of the ChAFTA, and has consistently reflected negative union views towards migration of skilled workers from China (eg. 457 visas).

So regardless of one's views of the removal of Tony Abbott from the position of Prime Minister, there is little doubt that the new Turnbull Government will help facilitate a stronger Australian economy and continued strengthening of the China/Australia relationship.

Congratulations to ALP Figures for ChAFTA Support

Posted on September 3, 2015 at 3:40 AM Comments comments (3)

Congratulations to Australian Labor Party leaders, past and present, who have spoken out in support of the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).

Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, former Trade Minister Simon Crean, former NSW Premier Bob Carr, current Victorian and South Australian Premiers Daniel Andrews and Jay Weatherill, and NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley - all have rightly thrown their weight behind the ChAFTA, because they know it will significantly boost exports to China, and therefore the Australian economy and jobs.

Yet the trade union movement continues to run a xenophobic scare campaign on the ChAFTA, and the one current ALP leader who really counts when the agreement sits waiting to be ratified in the Australian Parliament, Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, appears to be listening to them and not to the Labor leaders noted above.

In his editorial in today's Daily Telegraph newspaper, Paul Whitaker puts his views on Shorten's opposition to the ChAFTA both succinctly and forcefully:

In the national interest, for the sake of working Australian families, and for stronger Australia-China ties, it's time Mr Shorten listened to reason - and to his Labor colleagues - and stopped blocking the ChAFTA in the Parliament.  

With the latest national economic data painting a less than rosy picture of the Australian economy, the urgency of bipartisan support for the ChAFTA couldn't be greater.

Written by Andrew Stoner, former NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Trade & Investment

Crown Infinity Boosts Sydney's International Standing

Posted on August 29, 2015 at 5:40 AM Comments comments (3)

Crown Property Group's latest Sydney development provides a boost to Sydney's standing as a truly global city.

Crown Infinity, under development at Green Square, close to Sydney's CBD is a world class, innovative apartment complex.  Crown Infinity is not only a beautiful building featuring state of the art apartments, it is designed to create a community in its own right - see

Crown Property Group is led by Iwan Sunito, whose humble beginnings in Borneo have since seen him change the face of property development and become prominent on the world stage.

The testament to Iwan's foresight and innovation was today's launch of Crown Infinity apartments on the open market. A staggering $100 million AUD  worth of apartments were sold off the plan in just one hour!

Congratulations to Iwan Sunito and Crown Property Group for your continued successes, which help boost Sydney's standing as a global city.

North Coast Shark Attacks Have Economic Dimension

Posted on August 28, 2015 at 9:30 PM Comments comments (2)
My good friend and fellow surfboard rider Mike Baird and I agree that it's time to look at a shark meshing program for Northern NSW beaches, see

Even though there is a cost to the public purse associated with such a program, I believe the benefits would well outweigh the costs, because there is a strong economic dimension to the recent spate of attacks across the North Coast, from Byron Bay to my home town, Port Macquarie.

Centres like Byron Bay, Ballina, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie rely on tourism to add volume and diversity to their local economies - and a big drawcard for these coastal towns is their beautiful beaches, warm water and world class surf. But with nightmare stories of horrible attacks on surfers by large sharks seemingly every other week, tourists (including the increasing number of international visitors) are discouraged from holidaying on the North Coast.

Who wouldn't love surfing the beautiful beaches around Port Macquarie?

I believe the problem won't just go away.  Whales are back in record numbers, and they have attracted very large sharks, whose numbers have also rebounded since they were declared as endangered species decades ago.  In between feasting on a dead or sick whale, these large sharks cruise the beaches looking for fish or other prey.

The statistics regarding meshing programs are compelling - there hasn't been a fatal shark attack at any of the meshed beaches on the East Coast (Gold Coast, Newcastle, Sydney, Wollongong) since it was introduced many decades ago.

So to save human lives and to support regional economies, it is time we introduced meshing programs at selected North Coast beaches.

China-Australia FTA to Turbocharge Aussie Economy - Bipartisan Support Needed

Posted on August 28, 2015 at 8:40 PM Comments comments (2)

The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) signed by both nation's leaders on 17 June 2015 has the potential to turbocharge the Australian economy - but it must first pass the Australian Parliament.

Already, due to initiatives like Free Trade Zones in China, direct conversion between the Australian Dollar and the Chinese Reminbi (RMB), and the establishment of Sydney as an offshore trading hub, two way trade and investment between Australia and China is growing at double digit rates annually.

The ChAFTA will enable that economic activity to reach a new level, removing trade barriers for an increasing number of Australian businesses across a broader spectrum of industry, including professional services like finance, engineering and legal, and food, fibre and beverage production.

The numbers are compelling; Australian businesses will enjoy easier access to a market nearly 60 times larger than their domestic market.  Just one of the first tier Chinese cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou) have populations around the size of the entire Australian population.

Further, premium Australian products like wine, dairy, meats, and other foods will regain a competitive footing with other export nations due to the removal of tariffs and other barriers - a real boon for regional Australia.


Promoting NSW food products in Singapore, which has minimal trade restrictions

It's a no brainer, given the positive economic impacts of other FTA's Australia has entered into and the fact that one in five Australian jobs come from export activity.


Yet, Bill Shorten's Labor Party is blocking the passage of the ChAFTA through the Australian Parliament.  Respected political commentator Laurie Oakes in today's Daily Telegraph makes an excellent point, "Obstruction would not be in the national interest. Shorten and his senior colleagues know it. The Opposition Leader should put in an order now for a cap saying: “ChAFTA WE HAFTA.”

Labor appears to be taking their lead from the trade unions, who have lead a scare campaign on jobs, based upon the ChAFTA easing some of the world's tightest restrictions upon workers from China.  

But if the unions really want more jobs for Australian workers, they should look at the compelling evidence that the ChAFTA will help create many thousands of new jobs for Aussies.  In the case of the ChAFTA, it's crystal clear that Labor should distance themselves from their union base, in the national interest. 

Sports Aviation Flight College an Opportunity to Strengthen China Australia Ties & Grow Regional Jobs

Posted on August 18, 2015 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (1)

With the opening of China's airways for recreational flying in 2015, there is a great opportunity to build on the strong relationships between China and Australia to benefit both countries and their local communities.

In 2010, the Central Government announced that China would open up its airspace below 1,000 meters in 2015, expanding the open skies to air- space below 3,000 meters by 2020.

Sports Aviation Flight College Australia (SAA) is a soon-to-be-built flight school located in Australia founded specifically to service this need for recreational flight training within the Chinese market. 

Located near Merimbula on the beautiful NSW South Coast, SAA aims to provide tailored recreational pilot training, which is internationally recognised, and counts towards a commercial pilot's licence.

In addition to its strong potential to strengthen Australia/China ties, SAA also presents a great opportunity to grow the regional economy and add jobs for local people in the Bega Valley.

As I pursued both these objectives in my roles as NSW Minister for Trade and Investment, and Minister for Regional Infrastructure and Services, I am thrilled to have been asked to join the board of SAA.

Supporting Growth Companies Through Role on NSW Leaders Advisory Board

Posted on August 14, 2015 at 8:20 PM Comments comments (1)

I was honoured to be invited to join the Advisory Board of NSW Leaders, which has enabled me to continue supporting NSW growth companies.

In my former roles as MInister for Trade & Investment and Minister for Small Business, through programs like Innovate NSW and the Small Business Commissioner, I found working with and supporting smaller companies with strong growth potential to be highly rewarding, so my new role with NSW Leaders is a very satisfying one.

New South Wales Leaders aims to inspire the next generation of leading companies, through the provision of knowledge, networks, and capital.


NSW Leaders helps such companies achieve sustainable growth, manage succession planning and evaluate entry and exit strategies for their business.

Using their collective experience and networks, New South Wales Leaders offers a range of initiatives aimed at supporting companies at different stages of growth, including:

Executive Series

Alumni Series

Founders Series

Regional Series

Future Leaders Series

New South Wales Leaders also offers various initiatives for growing companies in conjunction with Government agencies. These individual initiatives are tailored based on the specific outcomes required.

For further information, see

Excited to Join Board of Slasherteck Pty Ltd

Posted on August 14, 2015 at 3:00 AM Comments comments (3)

I was thrilled recently to become a director of an innovative Australian company, Slasherteck Pty Ltd.

Slasherteck has developed award winning roadside slashing technology which has the potential to save roadside maintenance authorities hundreds of millions annually.

Traditional slashing leaves vegetation around the base of roadside posts and trees, requiring time consuming and costly follow-up with spray and/or whipper-snippers, however Slasherteck's patented slasher cuts right up to and around posts/trees meaning a one-step process instead of two.

In addition, Slasherteck has developed GPS enabled technology to help road authorities keep track of slashing activity, and an extension arm for irregular or hard-to-reach areas requiring slashing.

I am confident Slasherteck has the potential to revolutionise roadside maintenance and save scarce taxpayers and ratepayers funds.

Slasherteck's technology will be on display at the NSW Local Government Annual Conference in Sydney in October 2015.