House debates

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Questions without Notice

Mining Industry

2:53 pm

Photo of Katie AllenKatie Allen (Higgins, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. Will the minister outline to the House how the Morrison government is leveraging our nation's world-leading resources sector to create manufacturing jobs across Australia?

Photo of Karen AndrewsKaren Andrews (McPherson, Liberal Party, Minister for Industry) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for her question. She understands just how important the resources sector is for our economy and, of course, for our jobs. And whilst today's job figures are absolutely amazing, with employment hitting 13 million, even higher than before the pandemic, our government is certainly not resting on its laurels. We know that there is more work that needs to be done, and we are out there doing it. So, while our resources sector is already a global powerhouse and job creator, we know that there's plenty of potential for us to further capitalise on our natural advantage to value-add, and that's exactly what we are planning to do and what we are already implementing. We are already very good, as a nation, at developing and implementing resources technology. What we need to do is commercialise so many of the good ideas that already exist out there, so that we can take new resources technology through to commercialisation and to markets.

The same thing is, in fact, at play for our critical minerals. We have one of the world's largest reserves of these minerals, and they are used every day—for items such as batteries, smartphones, pacemakers and digital cameras. For too long we, as a nation, have been so good at digging our resources out of the ground, but, quite frankly, we've also been good at putting them on a ship, sending them overseas and then spending an extraordinary amount of money to purchase those resources back in a different form. That has been happening for more than 30 years. It is a longstanding issue in this nation.

What this government is doing is changing that narrative, making sure that what we are doing is value-adding to our resources. We are doing that, in particular, in critical minerals processing. It was only the other week that the Prime Minister and I were in Tomago, visiting the site that Energy Renaissance is going to develop. It is about a $28 million project, and it will be the first advanced manufacturing facility producing Australian designed battery storage systems. Whilst this is the first, clearly it is not going to be the last, because the manufacturing strategy that we announced in October last year defined six national manufacturing priorities. We need to target these sectors so that we can grow manufacturing in this country and produce the jobs that are so needed.