Western Australia fears it could become the meat in the sandwich as a trade tangle with China over beef heats up.
Premier Mark McGowan has urged conservative politicians to tone down their inflammatory rhetoric.
“Some federal Liberal MPs from Western Australia have been very hostile with some of our trading relationships,” he told state parliament on Wednesday.
“We need to ensure we have balanced commentary and a balanced approach to these issues to ensure that our citizens aren’t collateral damage.”
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is also skittish about the stoush.
“China is an incredibly important trading partner to Queensland – most of our trade goes to China,” she told reporters.
“Trade means jobs.”
Australian relations with China have been heavily strained since Scott Morrison began pushing for a global inquiry into coronavirus.
Beijing’s ambassador warned China could boycott Australian produce if the prime minister persisted.
China has since blacklisted four Australian abattoirs and threatened to slap an 80 per cent tariff on barley imports.
Eighteen per cent of Australia’s beef production is shipped to China, with exports worth more than $3 billion a year.
The four meatworks involved – JBS Dinmore, JBS Beef City, Kilcoy and Northern Cooperative Meat Company – account for more than a third of Australian beef exports.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said customs officers had detected repeated violations of inspection and quarantine requirements by a few Australian beef export companies.
“China has decided to suspend, effective immediately, processing four Australian companies’ import declarations for meat products,” he said.
“The Chinese side has asked the Australian side to conduct a thorough investigation to find the cause and address the issue.”
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said it was concerning the suspensions appeared to be based on highly technical issues, with some dating back more than a year.
“It’s disappointing that no notification was given prior to that suspension taking effect,” he said.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann insisted the trade issues were not linked to the push for a coronavirus inquiry.
“These are things that you would not even pick up on if we were not in this current climate,” he told ABC radio.
Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said people should not be spooked by the trade tensions.
Mr Willox said the Australian government needed to find ways to make the relationship work.
“Megaphone diplomacy or over-reactions from either side are not conducive to good outcomes,” he said.
“We have seen a rise globally in recent months of China lashing out at a range of trading partners. We are not alone in being subject to China trying to throw its weight around at a time of heightened global uncertainty.”