House debates

Monday, 22 March 2021


Resources Industry

4:56 pm

Photo of Meryl SwansonMeryl Swanson (Paterson, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Defence) Share this | Hansard source

I'm pleased to second this motion and speak in support of this motion from the member for Brand and also Labor's shadow minister for resources, who has been doing a fantastic job, travelling around our country and seeing the resources sector firsthand.

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel in a Tesla—and, being a car person, I was particularly thrilled about this. I was captivated by the technology that makes these vehicles unique. Let me tell you that it had plenty of pick-up as well! You may wonder why riding in a Tesla has anything to do with resources. Quite frankly, it has everything to do with them. Many people don't realise this, but electric cars aren't new. In fact, London inventor Thomas Parker designed and built the first practical electric car in 1884. By the 19th and early 20th centuries, electric cars, fuelled by high-capacity, rechargeable batteries, were the most popular cars on the road. In fact, in 1899 the New York taxi fleet was predominantly made up of electric vehicles. It wasn't until the more advanced combustion engine and the expansion of highways that sales of electric vehicles dropped off. Now, fortunately, thanks to mining and the resources sector, they are making a massive comeback.

I love to know how things work. The Tesla I rode in had its body and chassis made from strengthened steel and aluminium alloys. It's thanks to the perfect combination of iron, coal, manganese, aluminium, palladium, nickel and magnesium that this vehicle is possible. It's thanks to nickel and lithium that the battery is possible and it's thanks to cerium, dysprosium and neodymium that the LCD screens can make its interface possible.

The resources industry clearly plays a critical role in our lives. More than 49 mined metals and rare earths are used to produce a single smart phone. Mining makes holding the world in your hand possible. The extraordinary value of this sector is too often lost on us all. Did you know that one tonne of mobile phones yields more gold than a tonne of gold ore? These sectors continue to provide the ingredients necessary to make our very way of life possible. As the typical Australian wakes up in the morning, perhaps turns on the light and picks up their phone as they head to the kitchen to make breakfast, they have literally used coal, uranium, iron, copper, aluminium, carbon, zinc, silver and gold. From the light bulb in the fridge, it's mining that makes it all possible. It also might interest the parliament to note that iron ore, coal, gas, gold, uranium, bauxite and alumina, copper, nickel and lithium are all vital to our everyday lives.

In my home region of the Hunter, the resources sector plays a critical role in employment, directly and indirectly, and in our region's prosperity. We are the largest exporter of coal in the Southern Hemisphere and we are rich in the resources that are the envy of the world. I'm incredibly proud of our coal and its purpose in our region and in our economy more broadly. Hunter coal is sought after around the world and our export market remains strong and competitive. It is keeping the lights on in many countries that would otherwise experience power poverty, which is not spoken about enough around the world. More people are killed because of electricity poverty and power poverty than anything else. Around the nation the resources industry provides 238,000 direct jobs for Australians. In my electorate we are home to Tomago Aluminium, which produces 600,000 tonnes of metal every year. That's 25 per cent of Australia's primary aluminium. Tomago Aluminium is a big employer in the Hunter, and it's just one of many local success stories which have been spurred on by mining, providing great employment and indirect employment across the sector. As my colleague the member for Brand mentioned, this industry employs around 8,600 apprentices and trainees. It's the gateway for many young people to establish the skills they need to go on to other things and to have a vibrant career in the resources sector. I'm very proud to have grown up in Kurri, the coalfields. I remember fondly my father heading off to a dog watch at our local pit. The sources sector employed my father for over 40 years, and not a moment passes when I don't think about people who work in it currently. They are good, very well paid jobs. Australia would be much poorer if it weren't for our vibrant sources and mining industries.


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