Monday, 22 March 2021
I'm very pleased to rise today in support of this motion. I commend the members for Brand and Paterson for bringing this important motion to this chamber. The shadow minister for resources is very hardworking and is ably performing those important duties, and the member for Paterson, is somebody proudly and effectively representing one of our great resources communities. In talking about the issues raised by this motion, I start by commending, as the members for Brand and Paterson did, the many individuals and the many communities that support our resources community and, through supporting that industry, support our broader community and society. Indeed, this is an industry that is currently, as earlier members pointed out, the largest single contributor to our economy. If we go back through the last two centuries, as a Victorian I feel compelled to raise the example of the gold rush. We can go back as far as the 1850s to a time when we were the world-leading gold extraction and export country. Ever since that time, through successive waves of investment and through successive waves of the commitment of millions of workers, we have contributed so much, not just to the Australian economy but to the world through providing them with the raw materials that have provided so much.
As earlier speakers mentioned, this is the largest sector of the economy—10.4 per cent of the Australian economy—so it should come as no surprise that so many communities around this country rely upon the resources sector for jobs. There are around 240,000 jobs directly reliant on the resources sector and around 1.1 million direct and indirect jobs. These are almost incomprehensible numbers. There are over $264 billion in exports. Anybody who's at all familiar with trade understands that our trade balance is incredibly reliant on the expertise and capacity of our resources sector. For anybody out there who says it's just a matter of digging it up and putting it on a ship and exporting it, we have some of the most technologically advanced export industries in the world and some of the most technologically advanced industries that extract resources in extremely difficult circumstances. Indeed, many countries around the world look to our resources sector for world's best practice. That's the first point I want to make. This is a massive sector that contributes jobs and contributes to our economy.
The second point I want to draw out is the indirect contribution that it makes. It's actually a broader indirect contribution than many people often refer to. There's the indirect contribution of the many construction jobs and the many jobs in regional communities that are supported. In fact, many economists who assessed the last long resources boom looked at the contribution that the resources boom made to the broader economy and they will undoubtedly assess the contribution that the current resources boom will make to the broader economy. We can see that many governments at the state and federal levels rely incredibly on revenue from the resources sector—tens of billions of dollars from corporate taxes and tens of billions of dollars through royalties. And indeed, many of the hospitals and services that governments provide in our communities right around the nation are reliant indirectly on the resources sector and the vibrancy of that sector. So much economic analysis of the resources boom that we saw in the decade past points very clearly to the fact that that boom benefited many people in our society who weren't directly involved in the resources community and many people who lived in communities far away from resources communities.
The third point I want to make is the massive potential for growth. We can see forecasts for growth of LNG of 67 per cent to 2030, as well as iron ore to 13 per cent, aluminium to 52 per cent and zinc to 29 per cent. There are all sorts of major exports that we're currently world-leading on that can grow dramatically over the coming decades. But there are also, of course, niche areas like rare earths, where we can not only export more but also generate so many more high-value, high-paid jobs in the processing of those materials. As the member for Paterson said, if one looks at electric vehicles, if one looks at the renewables sector, there is so much potential for us to not just increase our share of rare earths extraction but also grasp the opportunity for the processing of those rare earths in supply chains that are secure—through rare earths that are extracted here and then turned into smart phones, electric cars and all sorts of other world-leading devices. So this is an incredibly important sector right now, in both its direct and its indirect effects, and will be well into the future.