House debates

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Questions without Notice


2:51 pm

Photo of Anne WebsterAnne Webster (Mallee, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia. Will the minister update the House on the resilience of the Australian resource sector in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic? And will the minister outline what this government is doing to ensure the sector helps power Australia into economic recovery?

Photo of Keith PittKeith Pitt (Hinkler, National Party, Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the honourable member for her question. The people of Mallee pulled the right rein when they elected the member in 2019. She is wearing a track in the carpet to my office, fighting for mineral sands and resources in her electorate and clearly understands that agriculture and resources can cohabit and can be effective. It has been a fantastic effort by the member for Mallee. I want to be very clear on this for all of those individuals who are out there working in the resources sector: the Morrison-McCormack government is absolutely committed to the success of our resources sector, and we will do what is needed to ensure they continue that success. They are delivering for our economy. Mr Speaker, as I'm sure you would know, it is one of the few areas of our economy that continues to have a green light. That did not happen by accident. I want to point out that my opposites, the shadow ministers, did reach across the aisle. We have worked closely where it has been necessary. Also, my state counterparts, quite simply, put aside the red team and the blue team, and, as the Prime Minister said, we are all in the green-and-gold tracksuit.

The work continues. The resources sector have been magnificent in their response. They have been magnificent. To the workers out there in their hi-vis and steelcap boots, whether it's the unions or their organisers or representatives, whether it is the companies or the industry bodies, they have been magnificent. They have done what is necessary. They have improvised. They have adapted. They have overcome. They will continue to work for this country. They'll continue to be employed. They'll continue to export those great products right around the world. People like BHP, 'the Big Australian', should be absolutely applauded for their efforts. They've employed hundreds of additional Australians in essential roles and they will continue to do so over the next six months. Arrow Energy, for example, have announced they will develop their Surat gas project during the pandemic. That is an indication of confidence, and long may it continue.

As I said, the member's interest is in the mineral sands industry in her electorate. It is part of Australia's critical minerals agenda. I continue with business as usual, working with our counterparts right around the world. In fact, I've had teleconferences with my opposite number in Japan and my opposite number in the US. I've particularly focused on critical minerals because they will be a strategic supply chain into the future. But we must continue our work around reducing red and green tape for our sectors to be successful.

Once again, I want to place on record the parliament's thanks, my thanks, the people's thanks, for the work the resources workers have done. They have moved. They have spent longer periods of time away from their families. They have done what is necessary because, quite simply, they had to. They should be proud of themselves and what they have done, and long may it continue.