Thursday, 4 July 2019
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia. Minister, the resources sector is vital to jobs and prosperity in our home state of Queensland. How is the government getting on with the job of delivering for the Australian people through resources sector policy?
I thank Senator McGrath for his question and recognise his longstanding support for our great, world-beating resources sector. We on this side of the chamber know how much the mining sector delivers to our country in terms of jobs, in terms of wealth and in terms of prosperity. That's why we are never ashamed of defending and supporting that sector and wanting to see it grow and back those projects. This week, the figures from my department show that the resources sector has smashed another record: this financial year the resources sector will export $285 billion worth of products on behalf of our nation. It smashes the record of $275 billion that was set last financial year. These figures show that, every year, the resources sector will be exporting a larger volume of resources, for 10 years straight—every year, a new record being set. The resources sector in this country are delivering more records than the Beatles. They continue to deliver year on year on year for our country, and that's why we support them.
We didn't need the Australian people to give us a spanking at the election to remind us about how important the mining sector is! I notice there are now more people here in this parliament, since we were here last, supporting the resources sector, supporting coalmining, and that is fantastic. I welcome so much the result of that election. Isn't it amazing, though, that it has taken 15-odd million Australians having their say for the Australian Labor Party to realise that maybe—just maybe!—the mining sector might be important to our country's wealth and prosperity and people's livelihoods? We didn't need to have that result, because we live in these regions, we work in these regions, we talk to people who wear fluoro orange, yellow and pink colours. We know what it means to their lives, and that's why we support and back them. That's why we support the opening of the Galilee Basin. That's why we support the opening of the Browse Basin in Western Australia. That's why we support the continuing development of resources markets right around the world.
One concerning thing around the figures that were released this week is that that record-breaking run I mentioned is about to plateau and, in the next three to five years, possibly start declining. So we won't be exporting more volumes ever year, year on year—because we have been relying on the significant investments that were made over the last decade, during the mining boom, and of course, unless new investments are made year on year, eventually you start to decline in terms of your production. We have had an investment boom followed by a production boom.
What we need to do now is support new investments in resources. We need to make sure that we don't have nine-year delays on projects, like the one the Queensland government has presided over with the Adani Carmichael coalmine. It's good that that's going now. But the Queensland government's now ranked, in the Fraser Institute ranking of uncertainty in environmental regulation, 49th out of 83 jurisdictions in the world. They are behind Russia, PNG and the Congo. That's why we're leading a charge in COAG to do benchmarking on environmental regulation around the mining sector—to make sure we facilitate investments in mining, not put more hurdles in front of them.
The consequences would be felt by people; they would be felt by people who largely live in smaller towns and country areas of our nation, but not only in those towns—Brisbane and Perth are the biggest mining towns in our nation, where hundreds of thousands of people rely on the sector for their jobs. I'm very much keeping at the front of my mind people like Kel Appleton, a publican in Clermont, who, with respect to opening up the Galilee in Central Queensland, said, 'It's our chance to have the things city people take for granted—things like a strong, stable income and hope for your children.' Anne Baker, Mayor of the Isaac Regional Council and a proud member of the Labor Party, who I caught up with recently, wrote a few months ago that the Galilee Basin would help 'fund schools, hospitals and public services not only across our state but also across this country', and with that in mind she added, 'Can all levels of government afford for the Galilee Basin not to open?' These are the people who are at the front of our minds when we seek to support the resources sector so that they can have a better future for their children and we can make our country a stronger place.