China deal to bring farming boom to Southern Downs
ENDLESS export opportunities have opened for the Southern Downs thanks to the China-Australia free-trade agreement and Wellcamp Airport.
Federal LNP Member for Maranoa Bruce Scott, who also sits on the Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade Joint Standing Committee and is the Trade Sub-Committee chairman, said the announcement of a trade agreement with China cemented Australia's position in the world's export market.
"It is an absolute win for the Maranoa - whether it's horticulture, wine, dairy, beef, sheep, coal or household goods," Mr Scott said.
"This means that Maranoa businesses will have unprecedented access to the world's second-largest economy. It greatly enhances our competitive position in key areas such as agriculture, resources and energy, manufacturing exports, services and investment.
"Significantly, tariffs will be abolished for Australia's $13 billion dairy industry.
"Australia's beef and sheep farmers will also gain from the abolition of tariffs ranging from 12%-25%, and all tariffs on Australian horticulture will be eliminated."
Southern Downs Regional Council manager of planning and development Cecil Barnard said he felt inspired after a recent conference.
"China's middle-class population is growing by
30 million people each year," he said.
"That's more people a year than we have in Australia.
"And the Chinese absolutely love and trust Australian produce."
Mr Barnard said the Chinese didn't trust their own products and valued Australian produce.
"In China they are very conscious of where products are made," he said.
"They've had a lot of food scandals, like dog food killing their pets.
"They judge each other by the products they have, like a genuine Australian crocodile skin handbag would be bought by a higher-class person," he said.
Mr Barnard also said he didn't think most people understood the scale of the serious advantage the area had gained with Wellcamp.
"The experts agree ... there's big advantages there and we're about to take off," he said.
"Especially with the G20 being held in Brisbane, it really put Queensland on the map."
Leaders from around the world had a taste of what the Southern Downs has to offer during the G20 last week, enjoying "Australia's best" Wagyu steaks.
Geoff Willet from Maydan Feedlot said the steaks were bred by an exclusive customer.
"It's pretty exciting to know they were having our steaks," he said.
"It's really great for the area.
"But they are the best steaks in the world ... you won't find any better meat anywhere."
And while Mr Willett said possibilities of export through Wellcamp were still in "early days", it might be on the cards sometime in the future.