House debates

Monday, 22 March 2021


Resources Industry

4:46 pm

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

I move:

The motion was unavailable at the time of publication

The resources industry is the backbone of the Australian economy and, in turn, Australians' livelihoods. As this motion asserts, this nation's mining and energy sectors, such as iron ore, coal, gas, gold, uranium, bauxite and alumina, copper, nickel, zinc and lithium are all world class. This is a fact. I've been lucky enough to see operations going on all over the country to extract, develop and refine these resources, from the North West Shelf LNG operations in the Pilbara to the coalmines of Maitland and the Hunter Valley to the goldmines and nickel smelter of Kalgoorlie and to the lithium, aluminium and nickel refineries in my own electorate in Kwinana. And I hope to see even more, as shadow minister for resources, including in Queensland next month.

The resources industry continues to provide quality jobs for First Nations Australians. In fact, today, there are twice as many Indigenous Australians working in the minerals industry than there were in 2006. That's 6,599 direct jobs for Indigenous Australians—nearly four per cent of the resources industry's workforce. The resources industry knows it can do better in this regard, but also many other sectors around this country can learn from this proactive example of empowering and employing Indigenous Australians.

The resources industry also employs around 8½ thousand apprentices, reskilling and retraining essential workers, and, at the same time, training and skilling up our next generation of Australian workers. The Minerals Council is projecting that this number will continue to grow, with 5,000 new positions to be created over the next few years, mostly in rural and regional Australia.

The resources industry makes a huge contribution to the broader Australian economy. Worth $238 billion in 2019-20, the resources industry provided over half of Australia's total export share. In fact, it was closer to 60 per cent. On a more palpable micro level, the resources industrial provides 238,000 direct jobs for people in this country, and this trend is growing. The sector saw an increase of 67,000 direct jobs over the decade. These are quality, high-paying jobs, jobs that pay over $2,700 a week, or $144,000 a year—58 per cent above the Australian average. In the year 2019-20 this meant $26 billion in wages to Australian resources workers.

In addition to these jobs and their direct impact on the Australian economy, the surrounding services, such as Australia's innovative mining equipment and technology services sector, contribute similarly to our economy and our way of life. Across the supply chain, mining and METS support a total of 1.1 million direct and direct jobs, or one in every 10 jobs in this nation, as well as thousands of regional small and medium businesses.

When you visit these resources towns, you see the real and positive impact that local procurement decisions by big multinationals has on the SMEs in the area. In visiting these towns, I've seen firsthand the investment big companies have made in local communities—the schools and the hospitals, for instance. Some towns, like Dampier in the Pilbara, were literally built by mining companies—first, Hamersley Iron and now Rio Tinto and Woodside. Recently, I visited Onslow and saw the incredible work that Chevron does on the ground in supporting that remote community. And, through its local procurement program to support its offshore gas operations, INPEX has boosted the Kimberley town of Broome and helped it diversify away from the vulnerable tourism industry. The contribution of this Japanese company, INPEX, to both Broome and Darwin demonstrates how Japan and Australia have come together in peace and shared prosperity since the dark days of World War II.

In Kalgoorlie, I've seen the work of local companies Northern Star, Evolution, BHP and KCGM in supporting the community there—though I note there are still challenges, including affordable housing, that must be addressed. These companies know, more than anyone else, that this ongoing support is essential to their social licence to operate. Australia has more than 100 mining projects with completed feasibility studies, and the combined $50 billion investment flowing from these projects has the potential to create more than 32,000 construction jobs and 22,000 ongoing operating jobs across Australia in the years to come.

I would like to congratulate all of the resources industry—everyone who works in it, everyone who hopes to work in it and everyone who has forged this industry from its very start way back in the 1880s and 1890s with gold and coal in this country. The industry provides hundreds of thousands of jobs to so many Australians. It's an industry that is the backbone of our economy and will continue to be so for many years to come.

Photo of Sharon ClaydonSharon Claydon (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Is there a seconder for the motion?

Photo of Meryl SwansonMeryl Swanson (Paterson, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Defence) Share this | | Hansard source

I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.

4:51 pm

Photo of Bridget ArcherBridget Archer (Bass, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

After more than a decade living in George Town—for most of those years, serving on the local council, including as mayor—I would hope that the community would almost consider me as a local. So it's as a local that I proudly stand here to support this motion—I'd have been happy to second it—recognising the significance of our resources industry and the extraordinary value of the resources industry to the Australian economy and Australian livelihoods.

Bell Bay, located in the municipality of George Town, is the heart of Tasmania's resources industry and is our state's largest industrial precinct at 2½ thousand hectares in size. Fifty-nine per cent of all of Tasmania's manufactured exports are produced in the Bell Bay area, including manganese and aluminium. At the heart of the industry is Bell Bay Aluminium, situated on the Tamar River. Opened in 1955, the smelter was the first built in the southern hemisphere. It began as a joint venture of the Tasmanian and Australian governments, primarily to overcome the difficulties of importing aluminium during wartime. In 1960, the business was acquired by Comalco Industries Pty Ltd and, in 2000, Rio Tinto purchased Comalco. The smelter is now operated by Rio Tinto's Pacific Operations division and produces around 190,000 tonnes of aluminium each year, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The importance of the smelter to the local economy and, beyond that, the regional and state economy, cannot be underestimated. It's the largest employer in the area, with around 500 FTE and an additional 60 contractors per day. Independent studies have also found that Bell Bay Aluminium directly and indirectly employs approximately 1,500 Tasmanians and contributes around $690 million per annum to gross state product. There is no doubt that the smelter still occupies a firm place in the hearts of my constituents.

As it's an industry not widely known for being a significant employer of women in more senior positions—although I do note that this is changing—I was really pleased to see Shona Markham, Bell Bay Aluminium's general manager of operations, speak at a recent International Women's Day breakfast in Launceston, highlighting her rise to senior levels of a typically male-dominated industry. I'm sure that, like me, Shona hopes that, in the future, her story will no longer be the exception.

While Bell Bay Aluminium is the jewel of the industry in our state, for the region to grow and avoid overreliance on one operation or employer, there is a need for diversification in the industry, including expansion from being solely resource industry based to identifying other options, including that of renewable energy. This led to the formation of the Bell Bay Advanced Manufacturing Zone. Led by Bell Bay Aluminium, the BBAMZ, as it is known, was established in 2015 from a desire by businesses in the region for better collaboration and to grow the region's capabilities by supporting existing businesses, encouraging investment and promoting the benefits of the region as a place to live and work.

As an industry based economic development group, BBAMZ is working in collaboration with government and community to support growth, investment and business diversification in the George Town and Tamar Valley regions. The BBAMZ's aim is to lift the profile of the Bell Bay zone locally, nationally and internationally as well as build a sense of community pride in the region. With CEO Susie Bower at the helm, they're certainly making some strides in significant work being undertaken by the group to secure the area as a green hydrogen hub. As mentioned in the House recently, I was thrilled to learn that the Bell Bay Advanced Manufacturing Zone, as a local industry group committed to ensuring the region can remain globally competitive, received a $100,000 grant from National Energy Resources Australia for research into the latest green hydrogen technology. BBAMZ was one of 13 clusters to share in this funding as part of the National Hydrogen Strategy.

Our government has been a strong and consistent supporter of the resources industry across the country, including Tasmania, and it's the leadership of government that has been instrumental in ensuring the success and resilience of the resources sector through the pandemic. I'd particularly like to thank Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor for his commitment to the resources industry in my electorate and for his willingness to listen as I advocate for the needs of my community.

4:56 pm

Photo of Meryl SwansonMeryl Swanson (Paterson, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Defence) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm pleased to second this motion and speak in support of this motion from the member for Brand and also Labor's shadow minister for resources, who has been doing a fantastic job, travelling around our country and seeing the resources sector firsthand.

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel in a Tesla—and, being a car person, I was particularly thrilled about this. I was captivated by the technology that makes these vehicles unique. Let me tell you that it had plenty of pick-up as well! You may wonder why riding in a Tesla has anything to do with resources. Quite frankly, it has everything to do with them. Many people don't realise this, but electric cars aren't new. In fact, London inventor Thomas Parker designed and built the first practical electric car in 1884. By the 19th and early 20th centuries, electric cars, fuelled by high-capacity, rechargeable batteries, were the most popular cars on the road. In fact, in 1899 the New York taxi fleet was predominantly made up of electric vehicles. It wasn't until the more advanced combustion engine and the expansion of highways that sales of electric vehicles dropped off. Now, fortunately, thanks to mining and the resources sector, they are making a massive comeback.

I love to know how things work. The Tesla I rode in had its body and chassis made from strengthened steel and aluminium alloys. It's thanks to the perfect combination of iron, coal, manganese, aluminium, palladium, nickel and magnesium that this vehicle is possible. It's thanks to nickel and lithium that the battery is possible and it's thanks to cerium, dysprosium and neodymium that the LCD screens can make its interface possible.

The resources industry clearly plays a critical role in our lives. More than 49 mined metals and rare earths are used to produce a single smart phone. Mining makes holding the world in your hand possible. The extraordinary value of this sector is too often lost on us all. Did you know that one tonne of mobile phones yields more gold than a tonne of gold ore? These sectors continue to provide the ingredients necessary to make our very way of life possible. As the typical Australian wakes up in the morning, perhaps turns on the light and picks up their phone as they head to the kitchen to make breakfast, they have literally used coal, uranium, iron, copper, aluminium, carbon, zinc, silver and gold. From the light bulb in the fridge, it's mining that makes it all possible. It also might interest the parliament to note that iron ore, coal, gas, gold, uranium, bauxite and alumina, copper, nickel and lithium are all vital to our everyday lives.

In my home region of the Hunter, the resources sector plays a critical role in employment, directly and indirectly, and in our region's prosperity. We are the largest exporter of coal in the Southern Hemisphere and we are rich in the resources that are the envy of the world. I'm incredibly proud of our coal and its purpose in our region and in our economy more broadly. Hunter coal is sought after around the world and our export market remains strong and competitive. It is keeping the lights on in many countries that would otherwise experience power poverty, which is not spoken about enough around the world. More people are killed because of electricity poverty and power poverty than anything else. Around the nation the resources industry provides 238,000 direct jobs for Australians. In my electorate we are home to Tomago Aluminium, which produces 600,000 tonnes of metal every year. That's 25 per cent of Australia's primary aluminium. Tomago Aluminium is a big employer in the Hunter, and it's just one of many local success stories which have been spurred on by mining, providing great employment and indirect employment across the sector. As my colleague the member for Brand mentioned, this industry employs around 8,600 apprentices and trainees. It's the gateway for many young people to establish the skills they need to go on to other things and to have a vibrant career in the resources sector. I'm very proud to have grown up in Kurri, the coalfields. I remember fondly my father heading off to a dog watch at our local pit. The sources sector employed my father for over 40 years, and not a moment passes when I don't think about people who work in it currently. They are good, very well paid jobs. Australia would be much poorer if it weren't for our vibrant sources and mining industries.

5:01 pm

Garth Hamilton (Groom, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I was 20 years old when I first went to work at the Cannington mine. As a second year mining engineering student, it was the formative experience of my career. I clearly remember the first time I went underground to work on service crew, and later on as a nipper offsiding jumbo operators. If you have never worked underground it's very hard to describe the teamwork that's required and the sense of togetherness that's quickly established in such harsh conditions. It's often hot, loud, dark and unstable. Large vehicles move quickly past, and of course the dangers associated with rock falls are ever present. I recall some years later, this time working as a nipper at the Ridgeway mine just outside Orange, I was returning from changing the drill bit on a jumbo. I turned my back to the cab and felt a gust of wind come past me. I heard no sound, but behind me several tonnes of rock had fallen, dashing the jumbo booms to the ground. It was an amazing thing to see.

It was a dangerous place, but we were there for each other. Mining crews are like that. They might rib you a little bit, and as a project manager, much later in my career, I enjoyed a bit of banter with the crews. A good crew looks after its own. In many ways the whole mining industry is like one big crew. Although it is spread all across the world, mining is still a small industry. We all know each other; we know someone who worked with us on another site somewhere. The industry goes through ups and downs. In the good times we grow in numbers, the pay is good and the rosters get a little bit easier. Long-term know to put a bit of money away in the bank during the good years. That was certainly the best advice I ever got from an old driller I worked with at Northparkes.

Young engineers often get a bit of a hard time in their first years, but we also get a lot of good advice. The best miners know to invest in their graduates because their future safety depends on it. Again, mining is an industry where we have to work together. In the down times that can be hard. I recall the end of the mining boom. As redundancies swept across Perth I remember the uncertainty into which many of my own team were plunged as our clients scaled back operations, this time at the Argyle diamond mine. I remember the tears in the eyes of the grown men and women on my team who I had to break the news to. I remember the fear in my own wife's eyes as we faced my own redundancy shortly afterwards. But even in those dark times we were together. The support and mateship within the mining community is always there. It is always there at the end of the phone or maybe across the table at the pub sharing a quiet beer.

Honourable Member:

An honourable member interjecting

Garth Hamilton (Groom, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It is a long story.

An honourable member interjecting

Photo of Jason FalinskiJason Falinski (Mackellar, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! The member will be heard in silence. Silence, I said, not high esteem!

Garth Hamilton (Groom, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank those opposite. In mining we always support each other. This government, this side of the House, has always supported the mining industry. We supported the mining industry in the boom times and we supported mining in the bad times. We supported mining when it was popular, back when VB used to use pictures of hardworking miners to sell its watery, non-XXXX flavoured beer. We supported the mining industry back then and we continue to support the mining industry, even though it has become unpopular. The place that the mining industry has become most unpopular is within the Queensland Labor Party. In my electorate of Groom, the Labor Party have repeatedly turned its back on and turned up its nose at the Acland mine. They have turned hardworking miners into jobseekers and turned opportunity into uncertainty.

Be very clear: Queensland Labor are no friends of the mining industry. If you don't believe it from me, then listen to what the CFMEU had to say. This is from a leaflet that was dropped into letterboxes by the CFMEU around the Toowoomba region during the state election, authorised by Stephen Smyth. It reads: 'Labor has been hiding behind the court process at taxpayers' expense and bowing to the inner-city green vote.' That's from the unions. That's what they have to say. There is more. It goes on to say: 'Labor's inaction means that the mine will close and more jobs will be lost.' This is from the unions. Even they can see through the duality of Labor's position on mining here. It's nice to say one thing here, but what about at the coalface that is being shut down in my electorate? Mining is a wonderful industry. Mining does so much for Australia. The only politicians that are doing anything for mining are those in the Liberal-National coalition. The mining industry knows it, the unions know it and the people of Australia know it too.

5:06 pm

Photo of Daniel MulinoDaniel Mulino (Fraser, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm very pleased to rise today in support of this motion. I commend the members for Brand and Paterson for bringing this important motion to this chamber. The shadow minister for resources is very hardworking and is ably performing those important duties, and the member for Paterson, is somebody proudly and effectively representing one of our great resources communities. In talking about the issues raised by this motion, I start by commending, as the members for Brand and Paterson did, the many individuals and the many communities that support our resources community and, through supporting that industry, support our broader community and society. Indeed, this is an industry that is currently, as earlier members pointed out, the largest single contributor to our economy. If we go back through the last two centuries, as a Victorian I feel compelled to raise the example of the gold rush. We can go back as far as the 1850s to a time when we were the world-leading gold extraction and export country. Ever since that time, through successive waves of investment and through successive waves of the commitment of millions of workers, we have contributed so much, not just to the Australian economy but to the world through providing them with the raw materials that have provided so much.

As earlier speakers mentioned, this is the largest sector of the economy—10.4 per cent of the Australian economy—so it should come as no surprise that so many communities around this country rely upon the resources sector for jobs. There are around 240,000 jobs directly reliant on the resources sector and around 1.1 million direct and indirect jobs. These are almost incomprehensible numbers. There are over $264 billion in exports. Anybody who's at all familiar with trade understands that our trade balance is incredibly reliant on the expertise and capacity of our resources sector. For anybody out there who says it's just a matter of digging it up and putting it on a ship and exporting it, we have some of the most technologically advanced export industries in the world and some of the most technologically advanced industries that extract resources in extremely difficult circumstances. Indeed, many countries around the world look to our resources sector for world's best practice. That's the first point I want to make. This is a massive sector that contributes jobs and contributes to our economy.

The second point I want to draw out is the indirect contribution that it makes. It's actually a broader indirect contribution than many people often refer to. There's the indirect contribution of the many construction jobs and the many jobs in regional communities that are supported. In fact, many economists who assessed the last long resources boom looked at the contribution that the resources boom made to the broader economy and they will undoubtedly assess the contribution that the current resources boom will make to the broader economy. We can see that many governments at the state and federal levels rely incredibly on revenue from the resources sector—tens of billions of dollars from corporate taxes and tens of billions of dollars through royalties. And indeed, many of the hospitals and services that governments provide in our communities right around the nation are reliant indirectly on the resources sector and the vibrancy of that sector. So much economic analysis of the resources boom that we saw in the decade past points very clearly to the fact that that boom benefited many people in our society who weren't directly involved in the resources community and many people who lived in communities far away from resources communities.

The third point I want to make is the massive potential for growth. We can see forecasts for growth of LNG of 67 per cent to 2030, as well as iron ore to 13 per cent, aluminium to 52 per cent and zinc to 29 per cent. There are all sorts of major exports that we're currently world-leading on that can grow dramatically over the coming decades. But there are also, of course, niche areas like rare earths, where we can not only export more but also generate so many more high-value, high-paid jobs in the processing of those materials. As the member for Paterson said, if one looks at electric vehicles, if one looks at the renewables sector, there is so much potential for us to not just increase our share of rare earths extraction but also grasp the opportunity for the processing of those rare earths in supply chains that are secure—through rare earths that are extracted here and then turned into smart phones, electric cars and all sorts of other world-leading devices. So this is an incredibly important sector right now, in both its direct and its indirect effects, and will be well into the future.

5:11 pm

Photo of Damian DrumDamian Drum (Nicholls, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

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)

5:16 pm

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Oxley, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, we're facing immense economic instability. We know there are more than one million people who are unemployed and there's growing uncertainty when it comes to the sustainability of jobs and industries across the country. I pledge to keep working to address these issues, but I do want to place on record today how much more serious Australia's economic position would be if it weren't for our extremely valuable resources industry. That's why I want to thank the member for Brand, the shadow minister for resources and trade, for putting this important motion before the parliament and raising this as a matter of urgency so that we can debate this issue.

This is a sector that is central to our country's economy and to hundreds of thousands of working Australians' livelihoods. I've been a big supporter of Queensland's resources industry, and I'm proud to say that our state's industry is worth more than those of New South Wales, Victoria, Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT combined. Since the last election—straight after the election—I had the privilege of visiting several mines across my home state of Queensland, alongside the member for Paterson and number of colleagues. This made me completely optimistic about our country's future.

The mines we visited from the Mackay region, in the member for Dawson's electorate, right down to Gladstone were providing opportunities for a huge portion of the state's population. In fact, Queensland's resources industry alone hires more than 68,000 people. About 2,720 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living in regional and remote areas choose to work in the sector. It provides new opportunities for apprentices and trainees. This industry, which made up half of Australia's total export share in 2019-20, supercharges our economy, providing $238 billion every year so we can build the roads and bridges—and the NDIS, as we've just heard from the previous speaker—that we drive on and we can make the crucial improvements to our way of life. This is an industry that will be key to Australia's strong economic recovery post the COVID-19 pandemic.

On my visit to the heart of Queensland's resources industry, I saw firsthand the opportunities that have been created to diversify and bolster our energy sector. I visited Adani's Rugby Run solar farm, a 65-megawatt project that powers more than 23,000 homes and businesses in regional Queensland. This solar farm is a key contributor to the Queensland government's goal of reaching its 50 per cent renewable target by 2030. This is just one example of how our diverse and world-class commodities have put us on a path to allow every Australian to access reliable, affordable power into the future. Australia produces 10 of the 16 commodities needed for the manufacturing of solar panels. We hold the largest reserves of lithium anywhere in the world and we mine every commodity required to build smartphones and the battery and storage technology of the future. When you look at numbers like that, it's easy to see that this sector positions Australia at the forefront of technological advancement on the world stage and makes a significant contribution to our strength as an exporter. At home, huge numbers of people are employed in the sector. It provides around 238,000 direct jobs across Australia, but there are also many who reap the peripheral benefits of this booming industry. In my home state of Queensland, more than 38,000 people in the sector earn an average salary of around $146,000, and they spend this income propping up our local economies. Regional communities are supported by the sector, particularly by the more than 5,700 essential fly-in fly-out workers who contribute to the $27 billion spent annually on goods and services from more than 15,200 local businesses.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented immense challenges to the resource sector workers and to the industry as a whole. Today I want to recognise the tireless efforts and sacrifices made by so many hardworking people to push through this tough time and contribute to Australia's economic strength and our growth for years to come.

Australian mining and resources remain the jewel in the crown of this country's economy and workforce. We must be committed to incentivising and investing in future talent and reinforcing that there is a pathway into the mining and resource sector for our high school students, TAFE and university graduates. We also need to make further commitments to invest in becoming leaders in scientific research to develop the technology necessary for further exploration under the work of the experts in the field.

I know that an Albanese Labor government has confidence in the future of the sector and will be committed to supporting workers in the resources industry as well as those in sectors who benefit from a healthy commodities trade. It's never been more important to ensure this extraordinary-value sector continues to thrive, one I am a huge supporter of.

5:21 pm

Photo of Barnaby JoyceBarnaby Joyce (New England, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Well, I don't know: Hallelujah! It's an epiphany! The Labor Party have decided that they now support the resources industry. It's great. I could understand why the west Australians had a great result, and they were right behind the resources industry. There's a big problem though. Over in Western Australia, they're run by the right wing of the Labor Party, and the problem is over here they're run by the left wing of the Labor Party. The Grayndler Greens are not going to stand behind the coal industry—they can hardly even say the word—and I don't think we're going to get the member for Adelaide Ports standing up for the coalmining industry.

I tell you what: I'll lay down a challenge. I believe in a new coal-fired power station absolutely, 100 per cent. I'll look at the camera: I believe in a new coal-fired power station—a high efficiency, low-emission, coal-fired power station. My name is Barnaby Joyce. This is George Christensen. We'd like to welcome you here today.

You've got to be emphatic. You can't have this: 'We're leaving it in the Federation Chamber, but not at the doors, with somebody who can just do it quietly and not at dinner parties, not with certain guests around. We'll just believe in it quietly.' That's not going to work. If you're going to stand behind your coalminers and you're going to stand behind your miners, you've got to stand behind the product that they dig out of the ground to utilise in every corner of the world, which is the capacity to turn water into steam to turn a turbine to create electricity.

The Chinese are in the initial stages or building or planning in excess of 220 new coal-fired power stations. They say the Japanese are transitioning out of them—what a load of rubbish! They're transitioning out from inefficient coal-fired power stations to efficient coal-fired power stations on their way somewhere down the track, who knows when, probably after you're dead, to possibly something else. The Germans—they say, 'You've got to be like the Germans.' We had the German delegation in the other day. Guess when they say they're going to stop using coal-fired power, member for Dawson? 2038.

Photo of George ChristensenGeorge Christensen (Dawson, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source


Photo of Barnaby JoyceBarnaby Joyce (New England, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

So between now and 2038, they're refurbishing their brown-coal-fired power stations, and I welcome it. Mate, I'm on a unity ticket if you truly stand behind the resources industry, because the first thing we could do is build a new coal-fired power station in Central Queensland and another one in the Hunter Valley and show the world how we have the best technology in the world.

Whilst we're at it, seeing we're talking about the resources industry, there is another part of the industry I think we should stand behind, and that is nuclear. We extract uranium out of the ground, semiprocess it, turn it into yellow cake, take it through the middle of town and put it on the boat. When it goes on the boat, it's blessed. It becomes the blessed product. It becomes ethical, and it arrives in another country as it ethically drives zero-emissions power for them. Then we even talked about—and it's from the left wing of the Labor Party in South Australia—taking back their rubbish and burying it back in Australia, but you can't use it here. You can't use nuclear energy here. Why not? Maybe you'll have, in the Federation Chamber, a little motion on how you stand behind the uranium industry, all the way to generating nuclear power. I say here again: my name is Barnaby Joyce and this is George Christensen. We support nuclear energy and we support Australian nuclear energy from an Australian product, and, even better, with Australian sovereignty.

Honourable members interjecting

They always go back to that. They say, 'We'll get them here. Do you want nuclear power?' Yes; I want one in New England. Put it on my corflute: 'I want one in New England.' I'll tell you what I don't want: any more wind farms. They're the ones losing votes. That is a losing vote. You could even come up with a policy. I add to the policy: if you can see it, your power is free. That's what they do in other countries. You know what will happen then when you say, 'If you can see it, your power is free'? People will suggest that they put them at the top of Flagstaff Hill, the local lookout—anywhere they can get line of sight to it so their power is free. It belies where technology is going now—pebble-bed reactors. They're about 17½ feet across and about 70 feet high, but apparently you don't believe in that either. I love this motion. I say to the member for Paterson, God bless your cotton socks. This is brilliant. The only trouble is: you don't believe it!

Debate adjourned.