House debates

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Constituency Statements

Pilbara: Mining

4:09 pm

Photo of Madeleine KingMadeleine King (Brand, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

Although the Pilbara region is thousands of kilometres from Perth and from Canberra, it is at the heart of Western Australia's economy. To get to work in one of the many Pilbara mines, you'll find yourself spending a lot of time on planes, in buses and driving around in cars. It surely is a trek, but every week thousands of my constituents make that journey. They fly in and they fly out to take up the working opportunities in the region.

Last week, I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the FIFO workers of my electorate. I made my way to the Pilbara to see for myself the extraordinary scale and magnitude of the mining and resources operations there. I thank the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia and the Minerals Council of Australia for making this possible and for facilitating an exhaustive series of visits. Over three days, I saw some of the largest mines in the world and met some of the incredible people driving these extensive mining operations. I want to thank my parliamentary colleagues from Queensland and Victoria who took the time to make the significant journey to witness these activities that drive the WA economy and that of the nation.

The scale of operations in Western Australia's Pilbara region are remarkable, and is hard to fathom their scale without seeing them for yourself. Giant super pits dot its expensive red-earth landscape. High-grade runways that can accommodate heavy commercial aircraft stretch out into what can sometimes feel like the middle of nowhere. While these runways might seem out of place in that vast landscape, they are essential to the movement of the Pilbara's workforce. They enable workers from across WA and even further afield, from across the country, to make their way to this remote region to help run the facilities that drive WA's economy.

We visited the Newcrest Telfer gold and copper mine, which has been in operation for over 40 years. We were fortunate to see the massive Roy Hill Ginbata iron ore mine, one of the largest in the country, and to visit BHP's Nelson Point operations at Port Hedland. Port Hedland is the port in Australia with the largest exports by volume, which accounts for 2.5 per cent of Australia's overall GDP. I was able to visit Woodside's landmark North West Shelf facility, which has been WA's largest producer of domestic gas for over 30 years and accounts for more than one-third of Australia's oil and gas. It sits alongside the relatively newer Pluto LNG plant for exports. Near to them both, the Yara Pilbara ammonia plant is one of the largest ammonia production facilities in the world. We also got to meet FMG trainees and staff who have learned their skills at North Regional TAFE and we got to visit Chevron's Wheatstone project in Onslow, part of Chevron's $80 billion investment in Australia and the production of Australian LNG.

In 2015-16, the resources sector directly contributed $32 billion to WA's economy and $14.6 billion to the rest of Australia. Over 9,000 businesses Australia-wide were supported by the sector, and Australians working in resources earned $8.2 billion. These are big numbers, and I'm proud to say the constituents of Brand did their part in making them even bigger. In 2015-16, over 3,000 Brand constituents were employed in the resources sector, and they brought in $460 million in wages and salaries to the electorate.