Wednesday, 25 March 2015
At the request of Senator Canavan, I move:
That the Senate—
(a) recognises that the uranium mining industry has the potential to generate significant economic growth, jobs and income in regional Queensland; and
(i) its disagreement with the Queensland Labor Government's decision to renege on the policy of allowing developers to submit applications for the development of new uranium mining projects in Queensland, and
(ii) that this decision will have significant adverse effects on regional areas due to:
(A) the potential loss of construction and operational jobs, investment and income associated with new projects, and
(B) the potential loss of public income generated through taxes and mining royalties that could be put back into supporting infrastructure, health services and education in the surrounding communities.
Prior to the 2015 Queensland election, the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was very clear in her precommitment to the Queensland people that it has been long-standing ALP policy in Queensland to oppose the mining of uranium in Queensland. This has been long-standing policy, and a ban on uranium mining had existed in Queensland since the 1980s, providing certainty to Queenslanders and industry.
Former premier Campbell Newman also took this long-standing policy to the 2011 Queensland election, promising that he would not overturn the long-standing ban on uranium mining in Queensland. Despite the backflip by the former LNP government, the Department of Natural Resources and Mines in Queensland has not received one single application for a uranium mining lease since the previous LNP government's new framework started on 31 July. It should be noted that exploration has always been allowed in Queensland since the original ban on uranium mining in the 1980s. This frequently takes place in combination with exploration for other minerals such as gold, copper and rare earths.
I could not let the opportunity go unmet to congratulate the incoming government of Queensland on its initiative. It might be something of an unfamiliar and foreign concept to coalition senators that promises made in opposition would be followed-through on when you get into government. It is something that those opposite do not appear to have learned from their experience at the 2013 election.
The Queensland Greens campaigned very strongly on this issue, particularly in the parts of regional Queensland where this is a clear and present danger. To her credit, Ms Palaszczuk and her colleagues made very firm commitments in the run-up to the election, and they have stuck to them. How remarkable that coalition senators would come in here and try to get a motion carried asking an elected government to violate an election commitment! Quite frankly, it says a lot more about the character of those coalition senators who bring such a motion forward than it does about the integrity of those who would uphold an election commitment.