Former Labor leader and Australia’s current Trade Minister Simon Crean had a bit too much cheap Chilean wine with his lunch. Crean is using his ministerial website to attack John Howard’s FTA with US but ends up making himself look like a tit in the process.
Lattenomics is in favour of free trade and welcomes the FTA with Chile unreservedly. Exactly the same way we greeted the FTA with United States. If we could change the world we would remove all trade barriers between all countries so no FTA’s would be needed. But in the imperfect world we live in, FTA’s are a step in the right direction.
So what’s the problem with Crean? Firstly, the FTA with Chile was Howard’s government brainchild. Crean simply finalised it. While we should give him credit where credit is due, it is disingenuous to go out bragging Crean-style for something that is clearly a joint achievement of Howard and Rudd governments.
Secondly, Crean uses FTA with Chile to launch a bizzare attack on John Howard’s FTA deal with USA:
“Unlike the previous government, we are not selling out Australian agriculture to pursue an FTA at any cost,” said Mr Crean. “The last government was prepared to exclude sugar from the Australia-US FTA and to agree to 18-year phase-ins for access improvements in beef and dairy.”
Well Simon, FTA’s are not signed for the benefit of one industry. Nor does the ALP party exist for the benefit of one industry. If that’s the way Simon wants to operate, he cloud start the Australian Agriculture Party and see how many people vote for him. FTA’s are signed to the benefit of the entire country. Yes, there will be winners and losers but on the balance it needs to be beneficial. For example, an FTA that is good for 90% of the economy is clearly a good thing. Going by Crean’s logic though, such FTA should be rejected because it is bad for 10% of the economy, and that’s absolute nonsense.
There is also a question of scale. USA is no Chile. US is the world’s larges and most advanced economy with GDP pre capita of $46,000 and combined GDP of over $13 trillion (on 2007 figures). Chile by comparison has per capita GDP of $14,400 and combined GDP of $160 billion. No disrespect for Chile, but they are not in the same league.
Creans’ bizarre anti-Howard rant seems to suggest that the ultimate prize of FTA with the world’s largest economy giving Australian producers access the world’s largest market was not worth some sacrifices at negotiating table. He than uses his great success with Chile as an example of how things should be done. Watch and learn, Mr. Howard! Does he think we are stupid?
Crean’s rant makes him look desperate. He attacks a star agent John Howard for signing up Brad Pitt with sweeteners and freebies, while big noting himself for signing up some B grade celebrity on favourable conditions. It is not the same Simon! Most footy punters recognise that negotiating with Christ Judd is a different ball game to signing up the Alberton Football League reserves players. Most voters, even Labor ones, are smart enough to know that negotiating with USA is very different to bargaining with Chile. Claims to the contrary make Simon Crean look like a fool.
Little wonder Crean didn’t have what it takes to be a PM.