Consideration in Detail – Appropriations Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

Mr PITT: I am pleased we have the two ministers from the portfolios here. Perhaps they could exchange numbers and not have to have that discussion on the front page of ‘The Oz’ about how they’ll manage gas and the resources sector.

An honourable member interjecting

Mr PITT: Say it isn’t so, because what we have from the Labor party is a budget which actually cuts support for the resources sector. These are just facts; that’s what’s in the budget. We have seen some extraordinary interventions. The idea that the ambassador for Japan has to buy into royalties in Queensland—and what is happening in the resources sector—is bad for this nation’s reputation, it is bad for our national energy security and it is incredibly bad in terms of sovereign risk.

The Minister for Resources—I’m pleased she’s here, because the Minister for Resources is having a crack. I have to identify that she is absolutely having a go, but she is hamstrung by the Greens and she is hamstrung by the left of the Labor party because they said at the election they would support the resources sector but that is not what has been indicated in the budget, it is not what has been indicated in public and it is not what has been indicated in the media. We only have to look at what’s been cut from the budget: $100 million from the critical minerals area, which we put forward as part of the coalition government. It’s an area of growth and one which is incredibly challenging because there is a monopoly producer in China. When there are monopoly producers they control the market. That means you need to be able to provide support to ensure that you can break that monopoly producer and have different lines of supply. This is what actually matters. The Minister for Resources outlined what is on the line: $43 billion in taxes into governments across Australia to provide services for the Australian people; 1.2 million workers, directly and indirectly; $450 billion into Australia’s GDP. This is an incredible amount of money that helps to provide services Australians rely on—hospitals, roads and schools. Nothing matters more in any sector of business than confidence, and confidence in this sector is at a low because we continue to see arguments amongst ministers in the media. It is not that hard: pick up the phone and have a chat.

What else have we seen? Once again, we’re back to facts. We saw 18 approvals withdrawn. Eighteen resource projects which were going ahead are now being reassessed. If we look at where those are, they are in places like the Bowen Basin, Saraji, Caval Ridge, Ensham’s mine life extension near Emerald, China Stone, Mount Ramsay, Stanmore Coal, Valeria, Waratah, Whitehaven, Boggabri. The list goes on. These are billions of dollars worth of projects, billions of dollars worth of sovereign risk and tens of thousands of jobs. I don’t think the Labor party understands how hard it is to get a project up in this country, to actually get finance and then get it finalised and delivered. You only have to look at what happened with Adani. It took almost 10 years, and what have they done? They have put billions of dollars into the Queensland economy.

An honourable member interjecting

Mr PITT: We keep hearing about coal. The coal sector, according to the Resources and energy quarterly, will produce $122 billion worth of GDP—thermal and metallurgical. That’s more than iron ore. The coal sector deserves your support. And what have we seen? We have seen them remove the approvals for 18 projects. That is not confidence for the sector. Every single hardworking individual in the resources sector who is out there in their hi-vis, in their helmets and in their steel-cap boots deserves support from those opposite, and we are not seeing it.

I’ll come back to the facts, because these are facts. The fact is that money was cut from the budget for strategic basin plans for the development of gas. We can’t have a media argument from the Labor Party that says: ‘We need more gas, but we’re actually going to take away money that would produce more gas and open more basins.’ Those ideas are diametrically opposed. That will just not work. I’ll also be very interested to see, when there are exporters in Gladstone, Darwin and the Pilbara, how that gas will get to Victoria at the same price as gas that you can get now from the Bass Strait. You need the premiers online. You need Victoria, in particular, to produce their own gas because, without that, Victorian manufacturers may as well move. They should move to other parts of the country where the gas is readily available, is cheap and is there.

I will continue on with those questions. How is it that you’ll get more gas in Australia when you cut support? How is it that you’ll get more projects when you’ve withdrawn 18 approvals? How is it you’ll develop our Australian economy further when we have a budget like Labor’s?

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