Question without notice – Covid-19 economy

Monday, 7 December 2020

Mr CHRISTENSEN: My question is to the Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia. Will the minister please outline to the House how the Morrison-McCormack government’s efforts to support new technologies and markets for the resources industry will drive jobs in regional Queensland and support our economic comeback from the COVID-19 recession?

Mr PITT: I thank the member for Dawson for his question. There are those who thought the member for Dawson wouldn’t be here after the election, but, in a comeback worthy of the Australian economy, here he is. That is because he stands for regional jobs—manufacturing jobs, resources jobs, agricultural jobs. The member for Dawson knows how to deliver jobs in his electorate.

I visited Mainetec, in the member for Dawson’s electorate. They design and manufacture buckets, would you believe, for the resources sector. Why is that important in terms of technology? If they improve efficiency for buckets for the resources sector, it means they can deliver Australia’s resources to the world more efficiently. No matter whether it’s iron ore, coal, gold—all the things we’re well known for—there continues to be opportunities for the resources sector in our traditional sectors, our export sectors, our manufacturing sectors and our downstream processing sectors—none more so than in critical minerals. We know the critical minerals sector is one where we have a lot of advantages. In fact, we have the world’s largest resources of lithium, cobalt, tungsten and titanium.

We know the member for Fairfax is out fighting for the Olympics, but the gold medal for us in critical minerals goes to lithium, tantalum and titanium; we have a silver for rare earths and a bronze for cobalt and manganese. And we’ll be looking to ensure there are opportunities for downstream processing of critical minerals. I note the contributions from the minister for industry, because the Manufacturing Modernisation Fund will provide those opportunities for more manufacturing jobs in Australia, in regional Australia and in the member for Dawson’s electorate, because we know that regional Australia will help deliver us out of the COVID pandemic as we continue to build the economy.

Ms Butler interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Griffith will leave under standing order 94(a).

The member for Griffith then left the chamber.

Mr PITT: Whether it’s a fighter plane or an iPhone, critical minerals are critical to the development of these industries. There is an opportunity for us; there is an opportunity for Australians; there is an opportunity for jobs. So we will continue to look for those opportunities in regional Australia; we’ll continue to look for those opportunities in downstream processing, particularly of critical minerals, and in hydrogen. We’ve heard the minister for energy and, of course, the minister for industry talk about the opportunities for hydrogen. It is an untapped jackpot for the Australian economy. We’re working closely with the Victorian government and the Japanese government, in partnership, on the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain project. I’m sure you know this, Mr Speaker, but I can inform the House as well—what are they using for feedstock? It’s brown coal. Brown coal in Victoria—

The SPEAKER: It doesn’t matter whether I know it or not. Just keep moving.

Mr PITT: We’ll continue to inform the House: brown coal, because it’s cheap, because it’s available. It’s in Victoria; it provides opportunities for the development of the hydrogen projects for exports around the world. So we’ll stick with traditional industries, we’ll build new technologies and we’ll deliver more jobs—we’ll deliver them into regional Australia and the member for Dawson’s electorate. Long may it be so. (Time expired)

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