Interview with Gabriella Power, Sky News

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: Flooding in Victoria, NSW and Tasmania, G20 Agricultural Ministers’ Meeting.

Gabriella Power, Presenter: Joining us live now is the Assistant Minister for Trade and Manufacturing, Tim Ayres. Tim Ayres, thank you for your time. It's a tough pill to swallow for every Australian out there that's receiving the news that Power prices are going up. What's going to bring them down?

Tim Ayres, Assistant Minister for Trade and Assistant Minister for Manufacturing: Well, it certainly will be. Can I just say before I start, thank you for Sky's coverage this morning. That report from that journalist you were speaking to, I didn't catch his name was -

Power: Simon Love.

Assistant Minister for Trade: - it was excellent. Of course. Well, it's a terrific reportage there. That's why we need reporters on the ground in those sort of situations. The Commonwealth Government stands ready to assist, of course. Murray Watt has been briefed almost hourly on these developments. I know the Prime Minister's standing up later today. Of course, in the first instance, the response from the state government that Dan Andrews' government down there will be operational in nature, they are absolutely engaged with this set of questions.

I just say to people in New South Wales and Victoria and Tasmania, be very cautious. If it's flooded, forget it. Don't cross roads where there's water over the road. Be very cautious and follow the directions of the emergency authorities. This is a perilous period as we're in our third La Niña, and it's very important that people work with the state governments and the emergency services to keep themselves safe. Having said that, maybe you have to ask your first question again.

Power: Look, that's an important message. Have you been in contact with people in Victoria that are impacted by these floods?

Assistant Minister for Trade: Certainly not in Victoria. I'm here in Sydney and watching the coverage extensively. I'm not engaged at a portfolio level with this. I just say on behalf of all Australians, really, people have got to work with the emergency services and the Commonwealth Government and all Australians will back people in Victoria and southern New South Wales and Tasmania. It's very disturbing to see that footage in Maribyrnong. That's unprecedented.

Power: It is. And we'll continue that coverage on Sky News throughout the rest of the day. So many topics we're hoping to get to. We are tight for time, so let's just discuss the G20 Agriculture Ministers' Meeting in Indonesia, what came out of it? What will Australia do to fight foot and mouth disease?

Assistant Minister for Trade: Well, the first thing here is that the engagement of, led by Murray Watt as the Agriculture Minister, with the Australian farming community, with Australian red meat farmers, has really delivered results. It's been a careful, methodical work-through. And as you point to, the engagement with the Government in Indonesia has been very important. There is foot and mouth in 70 countries around the world, where it's endemic in a number of those countries and present in 70. It is, of course, very unwelcome news that foot and mouth disease has arrived so close to our shores. And it's critical then that our cooperation with the Indonesian Government, with the Indonesian Department of Agriculture, is extensive. There have been, just before I was there, there are a million vaccine doses delivered. There are staff, Indonesian staff, being trained on the ground by Australian experts in delivering foot and mouth disease vaccine. There is more to come.

There is a deep sense of cooperation and collegiality with the Indonesian Department of Agriculture. This issue is urgent for them as well as for us. And I was really pleased to see that cooperation and to support that cooperation in Indonesia more broadly at the G20 level, and in every trade forum that Australia is in. We are continuing to press for more agriculture, trade liberalisation, more access to markets for Australian agricultural products. That is the key message. It hasn't changed from Australia from when the Hawke Labor government commenced the Cairns group of free-trading agricultural nations. We are in there batting hard for Australian exports -

Power: Okay, Tim Ayres. Thank you so much.

Assistant Minister for Trade: - and at the G20 and the European context, particularly beef exports and land exports.

Power: We sadly do have to leave it there. We've been cut for time due to the breaking news out of Victoria, but I appreciate you coming on.

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