New free trade agreement to deliver jobs and business opportunities in Australia and The United Kingdom

  • Joint media release with: The Hon. Scott Morrison MP, Prime Minister

15 June 2021

A new free trade agreement with the UK will deliver more Australian jobs and business opportunities for exporters, bringing both countries closer together in a changing strategic environment.

Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson have agreed on the broad outlines of an Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

The FTA is the right deal for Australia and the United Kingdom, with greater access to a range of high-quality products made in both countries as well as greater access for businesses and workers, all of which will drive economic growth and job creation in both countries.

Australian producers and farmers will receive a significant boost by getting greater access to the UK market.

Australian consumers will benefit from cheaper products, with all tariffs eliminated within five years, and tariffs on cars, whisky, and the UK’s other main exports eliminated immediately.

The UK will liberalise Australian imports with 99 per cent of Australian goods, including Australian wine and short and medium grain milled rice, entering the UK duty free when the agreement enters into force.

Beef tariffs will be eliminated after ten years. During the transition period, Australia will have immediate access to a duty-free quota of 35,000 tonnes, rising in equal instalments to 110,000 tonnes in year 10.

In the subsequent five years a safeguard will apply on beef imports exceeding a further volume threshold rising in equal instalments to 170,000 tonnes, levying a tariff safeguard duty of 20 per cent for the rest of the calendar year.

Sheep meat tariffs will be eliminated after ten years. During the transition period, Australia will have immediate access to a duty-free quota of 25,000 tonnes, rising in equal instalments to 75,000 tonnes in year 10. In the subsequent five years a safeguard will apply on sheep meat imports exceeding a further volume threshold rising in equal instalments to 125,000 tonnes, levying a tariff safeguard duty of 20 per cent for the rest of the calendar year.

Sugar tariffs will be eliminated over eight years. During the transition period, Australia will have immediate access to a duty-free quota of 80,000 tonnes, rising by 20,000 tonnes each year.

Dairy tariffs will be eliminated over five years. During the transition period, Australia will have immediate access to a duty-free quota for cheese of 24,000 tonnes, rising in equal instalments to 48,000 tonnes in year five. Australia will also have immediate access to a duty-free quota for non-cheese dairy of 20,000 tonnes.

Working Holiday Visa makers in the UK will get expanded rights and will now be able to stay for three years with an increased cut off age of 35.

Professionals will benefit from provisions to support mutual recognition of qualifications and greater certainty for skilled professionals entering the UK labour market.

This ambitious bilateral free trade agreement will help pave the way for the UK’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The two countries will now finalise the text, and carry out the domestic processes required to enable signature and the subsequent entry into force of the FTA.

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Government commits almost $330 million to Great Barrier Reef in state budget

A $270 million funding injection is set to bolster the efforts of farmers from the Far North to the Wide Bay, who are working to reduce runoff and improve water quality.

Announced as part of the 2021-22 state budget, the funding forms part of the almost $330 million the Palaszczuk government has committed to protecting the Great Barrier Reef, regenerating land, and supporting tourism.

The investment in the Queensland Reef Water Quality Program will go towards a number of initiatives, including best management practice programs.

NQ Dry Tropics CEO Scott Crawford said improving water quality was one of the most important ways to support the Great Barrier Reef’s outstanding World Heritage values, while looking after local farming industries and their communities.

“In recent years the Queensland government has invested significantly to address the threats to the long-term health and resilience of the reef, including improving water quality runoff,” Dr Crawford said.

“This announcement means the momentum gained through the last few years of investment can continue.”

The investment has been welcomed by Canegrowers, who are also calling for greater support for the role agriculture can play in reducing carbon emissions.

“Importantly for the sugar cane industry, continued support and recognition of growers working through best management practice farming programs such as Smartcane BMP, is needed,” Canegrowers CEO Dan Galligan said.

“We know that voluntary programs which take a whole-of-farm and individual approach, encouraging innovation, are much more successful than regulations will ever be in ensuring sugar cane businesses are sustainable, profitable and productive into the future.”

Mr Galligan said Smartcane BMP had momentum, with more than 35 per cent of cane farms now fully accredited.

“Now industry research is indicating it is proving to be successful in reducing carbon emissions and this role that farms can play to address climate change should be recognised and rewarded,” he said.

The reef credits scheme also received a $10 million top-up as part of the commitment. The scheme was developed by GreenCollar and launched in 2020.

GreenCollar water quality general manager Carole Sweatman said it was great to see the government assisting in creating jobs and improving agricultural prosperity.

“When it comes to the future health of the Great Barrier Reef there are local solutions that can improve its ecology, while creating jobs and improving agricultural prosperity too, so it’s great to see the government putting further and significant funding into this,” Ms Sweatman said.

The state government is also investing $60 million in round two of the Land Restoration Fund.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the 18 projects involved in round one of the LRF had restored thousands of hectares of land and stopped 1.9 million tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

Ms Palaszczuk said her government backed the reef, backed the land and backed the thousands of jobs and industries that rely on a healthy environment.

Terrain NRM CEO Stewart Christie said they welcomed the new investment for the reef and land regeneration.

“This is good news, not only for our environment but also for jobs and our local economy,” Mr Christie said.

Public submissions on reef regulation reversal bill due by Wednesday 30 June

Submissions are being sought on the Environmental and Other Legislation (Reversal of Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) Amendment Bill 2021 put forward by Katter’s Australian Party in April.

Agricultural industry representatives attended a public hearing into the bill in Brisbane last Friday, criticising the Palaszczuk government’s Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Act introduced in 2019.

The KAP’s bill has been referred to the Health and Environment committee for detailed consideration and a report is to be prepared by October 21.

The bill before the committee seeks to repeal amendments made in 2019 to the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and Chemical Usage (Agricultural and Veterinary) Control Act 1988.

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said the measures in Labor’s legislation were based on “questionable science”.

“This is unfair legislation we are trying to reverse, on behalf of affected Queensland farmers, who are impacted by the state government’s draconian legislation that controls farming practices in the six reef catchment areas of Queensland,” Mr Dametto said.

“Until this science is independently audited, replicated and checked – the 2019 ALP legislation must be reversed.”

AgForce Reef Taskforce chair Alex Stubbs said the reef regulation reversal bill was a chance to go back to the future on reef regulations.

“This bill, if passed, will take us back to the level of regulation and penalties units we had in 2009,” Mr Stubbs said.

A public hearing will be held in Brisbane on Friday, September 3. The Health and Environment committee is inviting submissions addressing any aspect of the bill from all interested parties.

Written submissions can be sent via email to before June 30.

21/22 Budget to regenerate reef, land and create QLD jobs


Premier and Minister for Trade
The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning
The Honourable Dr Steven Miles

Treasurer and Minister for Investment
The Honourable Cameron Dick

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs
The Honourable Meaghan Scanlon

The Palaszczuk Government will invest close to $330 million in its upcoming budget to continue protecting the Great Barrier Reef, regenerate land, support tourism and create jobs as part of its economic recovery plan.

The multi-million dollar injection into Queensland’s environment will build on the $400 million already invested by the government in the world heritage-listed reef since 2015 and open up a second round of funding for its Australian-first Land Restoration Fund.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her government backed the reef, backed the land and backed the thousands of jobs and industries that rely on a healthy environment.

“Making sure our environment thrives goes hand-in-hand with creating jobs as part of our plan for economic recovery from COVID-19. You simply can’t have one without the other. A healthy reef means more tourists and more tourists means more jobs,” the Premier said.

“My government will invest $270 million to continue successful Reef Water Quality Improvement programs from the Far North to Wide Bay and our commitment to protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

“We will also invest $60 million for round two of the Land Restoration Fund after we saw 18 projects in round one restore thousands of hectares of land and successfully stop 1.9 million tonnes of CO2 from entering our atmosphere, while also creating new jobs and training opportunities right across our state.”

“That’s more than $700 million we’ve invested to protect the Great Barrier Reef since 2015.”

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the biggest threats to our reef and the environment are water quality and greenhouse gas emissions – which is why the government is making these significant investments.

Mr Miles said the announcement follows the launch of the Palaszczuk Government’s $3.34 billion Queensland Jobs Fund, encouraging investment in job-creating industries like renewable energy and resource recovery.  

“Our $500 million Land Restoration Fund will be boosted by a new Natural Capital Fund that will allow industry, business and farmers to partner and co-invest in more regenerative projects for Queensland,” Mr Miles said.

“We’re also allocating seed funding towards the Natural Capital Fund, which will help with greenhouse gas reduction, capture carbon in soil and native forest renewal, while ensuring greater job opportunities in regional Queensland.

“Investing in protecting our reef and environment is part of our Government’s economic plan, creating jobs and supporting key industries.”

Treasurer Cameron Dick said by investing in a stronger, greener and more resilient Queensland, the government was creating more jobs for Queenslanders.

“The Palaszczuk Government has a proud record when it comes to investing in Queensland jobs, backing industry and protecting our precious natural environment,” Mr Dick said.

“We understand you can’t have a healthy economy without a healthy state, and that runs through everything, from our people and animals to the land, reef and ocean.

“This budget will ensure we can keep delivering on our election commitments and pushing ahead with Queensland’s economic recovery plan.

“It’s going to make sure our state remains an attractive destination for investment and industry growth.”

Minister for Environment and the Greater Barrier Reef Meaghan Scanlon said with an additional quarter-of-a-billion dollars to be spent on the Great Barrier Reef, the Palaszczuk Government would be able to put the pedal to the metal on ongoing work with industries like tourism and agriculture in developing more profitable and sustainable businesses while also protecting the reef.

“Queensland is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, and with it supporting a $6 billion economy and 60,000 jobs, it’s a key driver of the Palaszczuk Government’s plan for economic recovery,” Minister Scanlon said.

“We know that protecting this world heritage-listed treasure supports our tourism industry, jobs and economic recovery from the northern reaches of our state to regions like Bundaberg and Gladstone.

“An economic recovery thanks in large part because of the way Queenslanders continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and the state’s strong health response.

“Our increased expenditure in the reef and the Land Restoration Fund will help spark Queensland’s economic recovery while also ensuring our native fauna and flora, and our cultural heritage will be preserved and enhanced for the generations to come.”

Member for Cairns Michael Healy said investing in the health of the reef would support Far North Queensland’s tourism operators who showcase the region’s nature to thousands of visitors every year.

“We’ve worked very closely with tourism operators to support their recovery from COVID-19. With international borders still closed, we’ve helped them with fee relief, tourism vouchers to attract more domestics visitors and today we’re making sure the reef can continue to be a jewel in Australia’s tourism crown,” Mr Healy said.

Minister Scanlon said more funding would be announced in Tuesday’s budget for environmental initiatives in waste, national parks, resource recovery and wildlife.

“We went to the election with a plan for economic recovery and a strong platform to protect our environment and create jobs – and we’re backing Queenslanders by delivering a strong budget that will regenerate our reef, land and Queensland jobs,” Minister Scanlon said.

Qld ag industry to support Katter’s Reef Regulation Reversal Bill

Agricultural industry representatives are preparing to give witness statements at a public hearing this Friday, in support of a Reef Regulation Reversal Bill put forward by Katter’s Australian Party.

The Palaszczuk government introduced the Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Act back in 2019, drawing strong criticism from farmers and industry leaders.

Impacted farmers argue the act undermines existing efforts by growers to improve water quality and imposes ‘big brother’ style supervision over farming decisions.

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said the measures in Labor’s legislation are “a complete assault on farmers”.

“This legislation has been met with strong opposition by Queensland’s agricultural industry and Katter’s Australian Party has taken up the fight on their behalf,” Mr Dametto said.

“The KAP would like the members of the Health and Environment Committee to gain an appreciation of the importance of our bill and why it is necessary given the bureaucratic nightmare that farmers now have to deal with under Labor’s reef laws.”

AgForce CEO Michael Guerin, reef taskforce chairman Alex Stubbs, and senior policy officer Marie Vitelli will give evidence in support of the reversal bill at Friday’s hearing.

Mr Guerin said an independent office was the only way to protect hundreds of farming families and regional communities from unfair regulations.

“An independently run Office of Science Quality Assurance isn’t only for the reef. Once established, it would be able to oversee every aspect of policy-setting science related to vegetation management, the environment, air quality, and much more,” Mr Guerin said.

Mr Stubbs said if the bill is successful, it would be a return to the level of regulation and penalty units farmers had in 2009.

“It would still require producers in certain situations and locations to operate within an accredited Environmental Risk Management Plan, but one with many more practical farm plan options,” Mr Stubbs said.

“Importantly, the bill proposes that all producers have a duty of care to notify authorities of any environmental harm to water quality while carrying out activities under their Environmental Risk Management Plan, as well as to appoint an independent regulator to oversee enforceable actions and development of ERA standards.”

Canegrowers will also be attending Friday’s hearing. Chairman and Mackay grower Paul Schembri said his organisation will be urging the parliamentary committee to commit to greater investigation into the social and economic cost of current reef regulations on regional economies.

“We believe the current legislation is a bureaucratic nightmare. It’s very prescriptive to cane farmers in terms of the use and permissible rates of application of fertiliser and chemicals, and backed up by infringements that we think are unacceptable,” Mr Schembri said.

Queensland Farmers’ Federation has called on the state government to reconsider the regulatory burden reef regulations place on farmers.

CEO Dr Georgina Davis said the agricultural industry remains committed to doing its bit for the reef, with an exponential increase of farmer participation in BMP and other voluntary practice improvement programs.

“These programs have made and continue to make improvements to a range of environmental objectives, and have significantly contributed to the health of the Reef despite the water quality targets being grossly underfunded,” Dr Davis said.

“We remain firmly of the view that applying a blanket approach to regulating agricultural activities across all six Reef regions at the expense of true practice change will not realise the best environmental, social and economic outcomes for the Reef, farmers or Reef catchment communities.”

The public hearing is this Friday at the Parliamentary Annexe in Brisbane.

Green waste helps feed Australians through innovative composting system

Lawn clippings and old palm fronds are being transformed into compost by one of Australia’s largest farming organisations in an attempt to reduce its carbon footprint.

A new state-of-the-art compost facility in Bundaberg, south-east Queensland, is accepting garden waste to be converted to nutrient-rich compost designed to provide an alternative to chemical fertilisers and help farms decrease nutrient run-off.

Green Solutions Wide Bay was created by Australia’s largest producer of sweet potatoes, Greensill Farming, to expand the company’s composting program and involve locals disposing of their green waste in an environmentally beneficial way.

Nathan Freeman is head of planning, infrastructure and projects for Greensill Farming, which also grows sugar cane and peanuts around Bundaberg.

Protecting soil health while lessening environmental impacts is important to the farming organisation and worth the investment in the futuristic composting facility, according to Mr Freeman.

A man stands in front of a large machine grinding trees and shrubs.
Nathan Freeman with the green waste grinder.(ABC Wide Bay: Brad Marsellos)

“We have to start looking at this, reducing the amount of fertilisers and synthetic products we do use,” he said.

“This is a really natural product we can punch back into the soil.

Creating compost from waste

Turning green waste into compost takes 120 days.

The dumped organic matter is fed into a large grinder that uses scanners and magnets to remove any material not suitable.

Piles of shredded material are left to break down and undergo a “pasteurisation period” where the temperature reaches between 55 and 65 degrees killing off weeds and seeds while also allowing beneficial microbes to grow.

A robotic-looking turning machine with extendable legs then patrols the piles turning the compost, and water is added to keep the mix cool throughout the process.

The last part of the process involves screening the compost before it is applied to the farms.

Although the compost facility has only been open to the public for 10 weeks, Mr Freeman says trials have shown the compost is making a big difference in the health of the soil, which will mean better crops and a longer farming life for the soils.

“We are already seeing the benefits from the products we are putting out on the farms now,” he said.

“It’s a good opportunity to basically turn what used to be landfill into a usable product that can help sustain our farms.

“We really want to increase our soil biodiversity. Some crops can be a little hard on the soil, so if we can help and put this back in it will really help prolong the life of our farming activity.”

Large sediment dams have also been created to prevent any run-off from the compost to the waterways in the area. 

Security monitors dumping

Trailers full of garden offcuts and lawn clippings roll past over 30 security cameras installed around the complex as Bundaberg residents take advantage of the free waste disposal.

There is no human contact at the complex, the cameras record your licence plate details and if you leave material that is not plant-based, an alert will notify staff when you next visit.

Mr Freeman believes most people will do the right thing.

“We’ve spent a lot of time and money getting the technology right here,” he said.

“We don’t want people to be scared off by that technology.

“Everybody is welcome, anybody can come along and put their green waste here. The only time you aren’t welcome is if you put contaminants in there.”

Green Solutions Wide Bay officially opens Saturday, June 5, 2021 after a 10-week ‘soft trial’.