Tuesday, 16 October 2018
Good times are returning to the coal industry, and that's particularly important to my seat of Flynn and the Bowen Basin. Jobs are returning, and coal is now the biggest export from Australia to our overseas customers. Jobs supply good wages. Small businesses also benefit—motels, hotels, engineering workshops, bus companies, transport companies. They all are great beneficiaries when the coal industry is booming, as it is now. Empty houses in places like Blackwater, Emerald, Mackay and Moranbah are all being filled up, where previously they were left empty.
There are issues in the way of the coal industry, and I would like to touch briefly on some of them, although they really deserve more time. Our Australian banks are refusing to come on board to finance coal projects. They say it's against their policy, which is obviously a green policy, where they don't like the coal that comes out of the ground, although everyone in Australia, Queensland and the Bowen Basin benefits from our coal. The wages of the coalminers certainly go back into their banks, and that is a big benefit to the banks. But they still refuse to finance some projects. There are some very viable projects that exist, and yet still they put up the gate.
The other thing that is concerning to the coal industry is the Mexican stand-off that exists between Aurizon, the coal carriers, with the trains, and the Queensland state government. There is a maintenance issue there, and it's got to be resolved. This has been going on for six months. From my latest contact with Aurizon management, I understand that it will be Christmas before they can even hope for a result and resolve the issue. This is unacceptable. Our coal contracts are not being filled. We've lost coal contracts in Japan to other nations who are willing to supply their contracts, and we are left sitting idle, sitting on our hands, with nothing to do but procrastinate, and we do not look at fixing the problem. Surely it can be fixed. It's a matter of maintenance. Aurizon and the state government have got to come on board and fix this problem, otherwise our coal industry will be immobilised as it is.