Article – New deal with Japan revives Robert Menzies’ era, says Tony Abbott

8 July 2014
Sid Maher
The Australian

A HISTORIC trade deal to be signed today between Tony Abbott and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to spark a new wave of Japanese investment in Australian infrastructure projects and provide capital for plans to ­develop the north.

Trade Minister Andrew Robb, who met Mr Abe on his arrival last night, is confident the deal will unleash Japanese capital for the government’s infrastructure pipeline and development ambitions in northern Australia.
It will quadruple the investment threshold that triggers Foreign Investment Review Board approval, from $250 million to $1 billion, and cut red tape. The government hopes it will provide a fresh injection of capital into a range of port, rail and warehousing projects.
The Prime Minister will today liken the deal to the 1957 commerce agreement between Robert Menzies and then Japanese prime minister Nobusuke Kishi, who is Mr Abe’s grandfather.
Mr Abbott will tell a special joint sitting of parliament the deal spawned the Australian coal and iron ore industries and that Australian resources had powered Japan’s prosperity. He will argue the deal is the first free trade agreement Japan has signed with a major developed economy and will provide Japan with better ­access to Australia for its manufactured goods.
“For Australia it means better access for our beef, dairy, wine, horticulture and grain products,” he will say. “For everyone, everywhere, it means that two significant countries are prepared to put their hopes above their fears and declare their confidence in the ­future.”
The Prime Minister will say freer trade means more economic growth and more economic growth means more prosperous people and fairer societies. He will also move to reassure Japan about its relationship with Australia in the face of increasing trade with China. “You don’t win new friends by losing old ones,’’ Mr Abbott will tell parliament in a session that Mr Abe will also address.
“Australia and Japan have forged one of the world’s firmest friendships and most practical partnerships. But it wasn’t always thus. It has arisen from the ashes of the most destructive war in history because our peoples and our leaders have consistently refused to let the past blight the future.’’
The government believes the deal will also provide significant opportunities in Japan for Australian legal and financial services firms, and universities, and that it could lead to a string of new corporate partnership agreements.
Writing in The Australian today, Mr Robb says the deal will send a strong signal to Japanese investors “that we welcome their capital and are open for business”.
Courtesy of The Australian