Monday, 22 March 2021
It is great to rise and talk on the resources sector. I want to congratulate the member for Brand and also, if it's being co-sponsored, the member for Paterson—I'll let the two members work that one out, but it's great that Labor have put this forward. We often have very serious debates about Labor's true commitment to areas such as the coal industry and the gas industry. We forever get caught up in this place talking about our desire to get to zero emissions by 2050 and, therefore, which commodities we are going to cut back on. Very seldom do we talk about areas such as gas, as the transition source we know we need.
The resources sector has been instrumental in enabling this government to put in place a very successful and resilient process and economy as we work our way through the pandemic. As we come out the other end of the pandemic, it sees the nation in a very solid position. The resources sector in 2019-20 accounts for nine per cent of Australia's GDP, just with its export earnings alone. Effectively, resources and energy commodity exports account for $290-odd billion for Australia, with iron exports at over $100 billion, as we export enough iron ore to build more than 10,000 Sydney Harbour Bridges.
I think, also, we've got to be careful—we just talk about these numbers, about people that are employed. All of these numbers, effectively, represent families. And with that, there's the esteem that comes with being able to provide for your family, because of the work you do. You should never be overlooked, and you should never be acknowledged as just another number. This is an incredibly important part of life in Australia—being able to get these jobs and being able to build on that. That provision for your family is something that's absolutely crucial.
There's no doubt that the resources sectors, whether it be the people that are directly involved or indirectly involved, really have given Australia the best chance we have at bouncing back from this incredible hit to our balance sheet. As previous speakers have spoken about, you cannot talk about the resources sector without also acknowledging the other parts of our economy that are the beneficiaries. We do have a world-leading health service. We have one of the best education systems, and we have possibly the best disability—the National Disability Insurance Scheme. As we work through all the teething problems with that, in a bipartisan way we will be incredibly proud when we look back at what we have developed in relation to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. It's something that can only be afforded and achieved—and if we look forward to what we're going to do with aged care, and the more money that we pump into aged care to give our people that true dignity in their last years of life in an aged-care facility—on the back of these incredible earnings that we see coming in from the resources sector.
I spoke earlier a little bit about gas. Australia is already committed to making sure that we maintain our position as one of the world's top exporters of LNG. We are already doing an amazing amount of work in this area. It is important that we constantly look at how gas can be this lower emissions source of energy that we use both in its own form and also to use it as another form of creating electricity. Not only that, I think we need to be somewhat critical of what's happened in Victoria in recent years, where they have, effectively, had no extraction of gas as a state government policy. In fact, what they have had is a reasonably lame exploration policy that has effectively gone nowhere for the last four or five years.
We keep building on our coal exports of high-quality coal, and if we stop sending coal to Asia they will only go and use a much lower grade of coal in those Indonesian and Indian markets. So we need to acknowledge the importance of this sector, look at the benefits it creates for our economy and look at the benefits it creates for our society. (Time expired)