Concerns over Australia-UK trade deal are 'childish', says ex-commissioner

24 May 2021, 08:12

By Fiona Jones

Former Australian High Commissioner Alexander Downer told LBC that concerns over the post-Brexit trade deal are "childish", amid criticism it will "ruin" British farming.

It comes amid proposals from International Trade Secretary Liz Truss for a zero-tariff and zero-quota trade deal, which British farmers have said will drive farmers out of business.

Scottish National Party leader Ian Blackford has responded that this deal, which would lead to unfettered free trade over a 15 year transition period, "would represent a bitter betrayal of rural communities."

Environmentalist groups have added concern that allowing Australian hormone-treated beef would breach the Conservatives’ manifesto commitments.

The former commissioner Mr Downer responded: "To put it bluntly...it's just childish.

"First of all Australia has no intention of flooding the British market, we have substantial markets in Asia and that's where the focus will be. To send beef, particularly to send large quantities of beef and sheep meat, 10,000 miles across the world is very expensive.

"The only access to the market we would ever have in the UK is at the very high end. A high end which is substantially served by the EU."

He continued that Australia is saying "if you want access to the Australian free market and we're offering free access to all British exports to Australia...then obviously that's expected to be reciprocated."

Mr Downer dismissed the "scare campaign" about flooding the UK market with hormone-injected beef, saying that while it is legal to do this in Australia, exporters have no intention of exporting meat that the UK does not want.

"Obviously we expect the UK exports, including agricultural exports, to meet Australian standards, and the UK expect Australia to meet UK standards," he said, "why would we try to flood the British market with a lot of poisonous food? That is childish."

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss joins Nick Ferrari from 9am to discuss the proposed trade deal.

You can watch it here: Call the Cabinet with Liz Truss.