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Time for anti-Chinese Whetstone to be dumped from trade portfolio

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Opposition Leader Steven Marshall should immediately suspend Shadow Trade Minister Tim Whetstone after an extraordinary attack on the current trade and sporting delegation in China.

Speaking from China, Trade Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith said Whetstone’s credibility is now shot after his anti-Chinese, anti-business outburst in parliament yesterday.

Mr Whetstone also needs to explain what he meant when he said international trade engagement is “like going into a dodgy car yard”. He referred to his past pre-parliament experiences.

It’s time he came clean and told South Australia why he’s so anti-Chinese. At the moment all he’s doing is damaging the goodwill developed between Shandong and South Australia over the last 30 years and the work done to foster ties that will lead to new export and job opportunities for South Australians.

Background

In an extraordinary attack on South Australia’s trade links with China, Mr Whetstone's speech said the current trade mission was “jetsetting around the world, taking large numbers of people. It is all the fanfare, all the ganbei, all the fantastic headline acts, but taking a large number of people into a room, swapping business cards and having some niceties is not going to address the situation. “It is not about putting all our eggs into one basket, into China, or putting our export eggs into the emerging economies of India.”

China is South Australia’s number one trading partner with two-way trade in 2016 amounting to $3.57 billion.

South Australia’s exports of wine to China have grown from $106 million to $349 million since May 2014 – growth of 229 per cent. In addition, services exports are continuing to grow strongly with international student numbers from China increasing by 11 per cent last year and international visitor numbers up 41 per cent last year.

The mission now underway is connecting SA companies and institutions, including sport and education, with the business, research and education, and government representatives in strategic Chinese cities and regions to generate new jobs, business, investment and export partnerships.

The South Australia-China Engagement Strategy outlines how South Australia, its industries and individual businesses can capitalise on China’s growing demand for industries that contribute to the development of thriving, sustainable industries and communities.

Quotes attributable to Investment and Trade Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith

This is the third time Mr Whetstone has attacked trade missions to China and this time he’s taken a pot shot at over 200 South Australian business delegates, the AFL and the Port Adelaide Football Club; he’s an embarrassment.

It’s time he came clean on why he’s anti-Chinese and whether it relates to his own personal dealings prior to being elected to parliament.

His outburst not only damages ties with China, developed by the State Government and key partners over many years, they also damage the future prospects of South Australians who stand to benefit from two-way exports with China.