RICHARD QUEST: The Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo is with me, good to see you.
STEVEN CIOBO: Richard, good to be with you.
RICHARD QUEST: Before we talk about this, we do important things, I do need to just talk about the experience that Australia has had with gun control following the Tasmania shooting what, twenty-odd years ago?
STEVEN CIOBO: Yeah, April 1996 we saw, unfortunately, a mass casualty event there. We saw 35 people lost their lives and scores more were injured in that mass shooting, but, and look, I would never presume to lecture the US about what to do, that’s obviously a decision for the United States, but Australia’s experience, if you look at the 18 years prior to the 1996 shooting, we had something like thirteen mass casualty events, I think five or more fatalities from shootings. We then enacted a whole series of laws to, to basically, buy back or encourage people to hand in their weapons in Australia. We saw 700,000 weapons that were handed in into Australia, I mean with, on a per head of population basis, that’s equivalent in the US of something like forty million guns coming back into the government. And since then we’ve had zero mass casualty events.
RICHARD QUEST: And you also, of course, the word ‘other’ measures that were introduced, tightening up on the ownership, the restrictions, the background checks and all of those things, but it was the buyback that was the key to it. Because the argument in this country goes, ‘well, if you just have background checks and restrictions on ownership, you’ve still got 350 million guns out there.”
STEVEN CIOBO: Yeah. Well, I can’t speak to the US experience, In Australia -
RICHARD QUEST: Right, but the Australian experience.
STEVEN CIOBO: In Australia, what we did was several things; we bought back guns, and that was around 640-650,000 guns were bought back. We saw about another 60 thousand that were voluntarily handed in, and that removed 700,000 weapons from the Australian population. And as I said, since then we’ve had zero mass casualty shootings in Australia. So, the results in Australia have been very profound, but also suicide, Richard. We’ve seen the suicide rate, successful suicide rate, in Australia fall by something like 50-60 per cent since we did this as well, so there’s been a lot of benefits for Australia.
RICHARD QUEST: We’ll put all that to one side. Let’s talk now about trade
STEVEN CIOBO: Sure.
RICHARD QUEST: The CPTPP-
STEVEN CIOBO: Let’s just call it the TPP-11.
RICHARD QUEST: The TPP-11. Or the TPP minus 1, what’s different about it? Whichever. What’s different about it?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well, what we did, the eleven of us that were still remaining, I mean we were disappointed but not surprised when the US took the decision to withdraw, I mean the President flagged that prior to the election so it happened and that was to be expected. But the eleven of us said ‘No, this is a very important deal, it’s going to be good for all of us,’ $13.7 trillion worth of economic activity captured by the agreement between the 11 of us, so we forged ahead and we’ve done this deal.
RICHARD QUEST: Right. But how does it differ? How does TPP-11 differ from the original? I mean obviously, the US isn’t there numerically, but what terms have not survived or have been added? What have you managed to get?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well, actually, the most important is what we didn’t do. And by that what I mean is, we are able to not have countries change their market access offers, so in others words, what was on the table before stayed on the table, even with the US withdrawal, and that was really critical, so we didn’t have to open negotiations all over again. But what we did do was suspend around 20 provisions that represented, I guess, the main offensive interests of the United States.
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