Members Statement – Belt and Road Initiative

The Premier is trying to justify signing Victoria up to the Chinese communist government’s Belt and Road Initiative. The Belt and Road agreement is not a trade deal. It is an infrastructure deal where China bankrolls projects in return for favourable outcomes for Chinese firms. The Premier has been implying that the Belt and Road deal was imperative to ongoing trade with China. This is not the case. The China-Australia free trade agreement came into force in 2015 and provides a fair two-way street for trade between the two nations. To try and tie that FTA with the Belt and Road Initiative is misleading. We have seen recently that China is prepared to break that free trade deal and impose huge tariffs on Victorian barley farmers.

Now, you would expect that the Victorian government would stand up for Victorian farmers and call on China to honour the deal it has made. Instead the Treasurer tried to shift the blame, and rather than standing up to the bullying tactics of the Chinese communist government he sympathised with them. It raises the question: what hold does the Chinese communist government have over the Andrews government when it can blatantly breach a free trade deal but senior members of the Victorian government defend the Chinese government’s actions? What will the government do if the Chinese government starts to impose huge tariffs on Victorian wine or Victorian dairy? Will they stand up for our producers and farmers, or will they continue to defend the Chinese government? The government needs to decide what is more important: a thriving Victorian economy buoyed by our farmers and producers or a deal with China.