Thursday, 13 February 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to Minister representing the Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, Senator Ruston. Can the minister inform the Senate as to why it is important to maintain a consistent policy approach to the Australian resources sector?
I thank Senator McDonald for her question. Like me, she understands the huge importance of the resources sector to her home state of Queensland as well as my home state of South Australia.
We on this side of the chamber are absolutely committed to the stable management of the resources sector, which is booming. It is generating record profits, record exports and record royalties and it is paying record taxes. Most importantly it is generating jobs in rural and regional Australia. The resources sector accounts for about eight per cent of Australia's GDP and 59 per cent of our export earnings—$279 billion in 2018-19, $77 billion in iron ore and $50 billion in LNG exports.
But guess what. There are 245,000 Australians employed in the resources sector. That's two per cent of our workforce—absolutely extraordinary. It's one of the fastest-growing employers in Australia. There are 94,000 more people working in the mining and resources sector today than in 2005. Many of these jobs are highly skilled. They are highly-skilled jobs and they are in rural and regional Australia. It is our resources sector that enables us to sustain this level of workforce outside of our capital cities.
To ensure this is continued, to maintain our resources sector and to maintain something that is the backbone of our regional communities, the Australian government is absolutely committed to further investment in ensuring that our resources sector continues to go from strength to strength. Whether it be removing red tape or supporting our workforce, we are behind our resources sector.
A very important part of our resources sector is our coalmining sector. Australia is the largest exporter of metallurgical coal and the second-largest exporter of thermal coal. It brings $70 billion to the Australian economy and $6 billion in royalties. That $6 billion pays for schools, hospitals and roads.
I'd like to take the opportunity to fact check the Greens today. This morning the ABC confirmed that there are in fact more people working in the coal industry than as baristas. The fact is that there are 16,700 full-time baristas in Australia whereas the coal industry employs in excess of 50,000 people. Those 50,000 people happen to be in the home state not only of Senator McDonald, who asked the question, but also of Senator Waters, who is also a Queensland senator. Let's not forget that $2 billion— (Time expired)
I'm not quite sure. However, one thing that I can be sure of is that I am confused about what the policy of the other side is in relation to jobs in the mining sector. It is probably quite unusual for Senator Farrell and I to be on a unity ticket when it comes to rural and regional jobs, but we certainly have been on a unity ticket when it comes to the wine industry, and, once again, we are on a unity ticket when it comes to supporting rural and regional jobs in our resources sector.
Opposition senators interjecting—
Perhaps those opposite, who are having a fun time interjecting, might take into consideration the impact of the Carmichael coalmine—$2 billion. And guess how many jobs have already been created at the Carmichael coalmine—over 800 in Queensland. Senator Farrell is supporting rural and regional jobs. Perhaps you should too.