Coulton's Catch-up | Trade creating a stronger economy

Member for Parkes Mark Coulton hosted Minister for Agriculture, Senator Bridget McKenzie in the Parkes electorate earlier this month to highlight the ongoing impacts of the drought.
Member for Parkes Mark Coulton hosted Minister for Agriculture, Senator Bridget McKenzie in the Parkes electorate earlier this month to highlight the ongoing impacts of the drought.

I was pleased to address the important topic of trade during Question Time in Parliament last week.

Our ag and mineral exports make an important contribution to Australia's economic prosperity, and to the vitality of our regional and rural communities. Trade creates more jobs and increases our capacity to pay for the essential services that we all rely on. For this reason, improving access to our exporters for international markets is critically important, and that's why the Coalition government continues to deliver on an ambitious trade agenda.

In this context, I welcomed the passage through the Senate of the legislation to implement the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Indonesia, Peru and Hong Kong. These three agreements deliver real outcomes for businesses in regional Australia, including in my electorate.

The agreement with Peru will deliver zero tariffs on beef within five years, giving Australian beef producers the same access to the Peruvian market as US farmers, and offering benefits for other industries. The agreement with Indonesia will deliver significant new access for our exporters of live cattle, beef, sheepmeat, feed grains and dairy.

The National Farmers Federation has made the very important point that, with many farmers are doing it tough and in some regions managing consecutive years of drought, the agreement with Indonesia ensures there are valuable export markets in place ready for our agricultural goods to take advantage of when the drought breaks and productivity is once again on the rise.

The benefits of these agreements are not just for big business; they benefit every Australian. Under the Morrison-McCormack government, record numbers of small and medium exporters are taking advantage of the agreements we have concluded.

Supporting students during the drought

Earlier this month I shared the news that the Coalition Government is providing $10 million in Special Circumstances Funding to schools affected by ongoing drought conditions.

This is a supplementary financial source for schools that are directly impacted by the ongoing drought or are delivering education to a high proportion of students from drought-affected communities.

Applications for this program will close on 16 December.

I strongly encourage schools in my electorate to take advantage of this opportunity, and read more at www.education.gov.au/201920-drought-relief-funding-non-government-schools

The Government is also providing an additional $5 million in Community Child Care Fund (CCCF) special circumstance funding to support child care services in drought affected areas. For more details, see www.education.gov.au/community-child-care-fund-cccf-special-circumstances-drought-support

Funding to get more active

The Coalition Government's Driving Social Inclusion through Sport and Physical Activity grants program is open now. Local organisations in the Parkes electorate can apply for the grants, which aim to break down the barriers to people getting active.

Playing sport is a great way to be a part of the community so it's important we provide a helping hand for people to get involved, particularly those with disabilities, new migrants and the indigenous community.

Eligible activities include things like coaching clinics or participation in local sports competitions. I encourage not-for-profit organisations including local community organisations, sporting organisations and local government entities, to put forward an application. Applications close 12 December - full details at www.grants.gov.au (ID: GO2645).