Thursday, 8 October 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, Senator Birmingham. Australia's resources sector represents nine per cent of Australia's GDP, employs over 65,000 people in Queensland alone and is anticipated to pay over $4 billion in royalties to the Queensland government in the 2019-20 financial year. The Morrison-McCormack Liberal-National government has committed more than $200 million worth of measures to support the resources sector as part of this week's budget. Can the minister outline why our government is steadfast in its commitment to this important industry?
I thank Senator Canavan for his question. Senator Canavan is a renowned champion of the Australian resources sector in particular. The Australian resources industry is a world leader when it comes to the extraction, production and export of high-quality resources. The industry represents a significant proportion of Australia's economy and is the backbone of many regional communities and towns across Australia, as Senator Canavan and all my Liberal and National colleagues know and appreciate. The resources industry represents some nine per cent of Australia's GDP. Importantly, that grew last financial year by 0.5 per cent, worth $7 billion extra to Australia's economy as a result. In 2019-20 our resources and energy exports reached a record of $290 billion for Australia. Our iron ore was the first commodity to ever record more than $100 billion in export revenue. Our gold industry is poised to become the world's largest producer; it is forecast to record some $31 billion of production in 2020-21.
Even in the midst of the most significant global pandemic and economic shock, the resources industry is investing in Australia, and in Australians and Australian jobs, with mining capital investment increasing by 5.4 per cent over the course of the last financial year. The resources industry is already a supporter of Australian jobs, employing 247,000 Australians in August this year, an increase of almost 6,000 compared with February this year. Of course, they are just the direct contributions; the resources industry supports so many more jobs than those direct contributions. That's why the Morrison-McCormack government recognises its importance and continues to invest in the industry and its growth potential. (Time expired)
Thank you, Mr President. Can the minister outline what commitments our government has made as part of this week's budget to ensure the continued investment and expansion across our mining industry in this great country?
We've made a number of new investments to support energy, minerals and groundwater resources and to improve their understanding and development during this budget. A $124.5 million expansion for the Exploring for the Future program will improve the understanding of Australia's resources, identifying the resource potential of key regions across Australia. We understand the importance of developing our natural resources, which is why we've committed $28.3 billion for five strategic basin plans, charting a quicker pathway for their development. We also recognise the need to provide communities living in gas development regions with independent and transparent information, hence our support for the CSIRO's Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance with some $13.7 million.
As part of our commitment to emissions reduction and to meeting the targets of the Paris agreement we have provided a further $50 million towards the Carbon Capture, Use and Storage Development and Demonstration Fund. Indeed, our government, in recognising the potential for use of our resources, is of course investing in manufacturing, and— (Time expired)
Is the minister aware of any risks to the mining industry and jobs in my home state of Queensland? And, while I have the time, could I also ask if the minister has the time on this Saturday to come up to Clermont in Central Queensland and attend our Bob Brown tribute rally, where we will be highlighting those risks once again?
I thank Senator Canavan for the further question and, indeed, for the invitation!
In terms of threats, Senator Canavan and others know a little more about Queensland politics than me, but it's tempting to say that one of those threats could indeed be Jackie Trad, as I understand it—a name that I hear again and again in terms of the risks that are faced by the Queensland resources sector. Sadly, Queensland, even coming in pre COVID, had amongst the highest unemployment, the highest level of bankruptcies and the lowest business confidence in Australia. It's an economy that is so reliant on the resources, energy and mining sectors. That's why it's disappointing to see delays in approvals for developments such as New Hope's New Acland Stage 3. It's a prime example of legal and bureaucratic intervention delaying the potential creation of new jobs and new opportunities in a state like Queensland. And of course losing the potential for 500 additional jobs through these types of delays doesn't— (Time expired)