Question without notice – Mining industry

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Mr ENTSCH (Leichhardt): My question is to the Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia. Will the minister please update the House on how the Morrison-McCormack government is supporting the growth of Australia’s resources sector to create more jobs, including in my home state of Queensland? Is the minister aware of any alternative policies?

Mr PITT (HinklerMinister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia): Thank you very much for the call, Mr Speaker—

The SPEAKER: That’s okay!

Mr PITT: and can I thank the honourable member not only for their question but for more than two decades of service to his community and two decades of service to the Australian parliament and the Australian people.

Up in Leichhardt, in the far north, there’s a little place called Weipa. It is on the west coast of the cape. It’s actually a very important mining centre for the bauxite industry. In fact, almost half of the local population in Weipa work at the mine. It’s a critical contributor to Australian industry, and of course to Australia’s economy and, more importantly, the Queensland economy.

We know that the resources sector delivers over 247,000 direct jobs to Australia—247,000. But, from Bunbury to Weipa, every individual knows that we all need to do more. As part of our economic recovery plan, we have strategic basins plans—five of them—to be developed in a program worth $28.3 million over the next three years. There’s the Beetaloo—and of course I acknowledge the work of the minister for energy up in the Beetaloo last week, looking at exactly what that resource can provide—and also into the north Bowen, to the Galilee, across Queensland.

I want to mention someone called Steve Burt. Steve is from Gas Field Services. It’s a drilling company in Queensland. Steve is a typical driller. He’s big. He’s burly. He’s bearded. He’s got a handshake like a bear. He’s rough as hessian underwear, to be frank! But his business actually started in 2007 with a team of just three. What does he do now? He runs 12 rigs, he employs 76 people, he employs four apprentices, he has three trainee drillers and he won the Queensland Mining Contractor of the Year award at the Queensland Mining Awards just a few weeks ago. We need more people like Steve and his company. We need more individuals out there working in the resources sector, in particular in Queensland.

I’m asked about alternative approaches. You know where this is going, Mr Speaker; I’m sure you know where this is going. In Queensland, they simply have no plan for resources whatsoever. None! Those opposite, Labor’s environmental action network, want no gas. No gas appliances. They want to knock out the resources sector. There is some slight resistance over there. It’s not much. The member for Hunter—the General Custer of the Labor Party. It’s Little Bighorn for the Labor Party at the moment, for the member for Hunter. His left flank won’t be overrun. It’s turned and fixed bayonets. They’re coming straight at him, trying to do him political damage.

We support the resources sector because it supports jobs. It drives our economy. In Queensland, there is a very important contest on 31 October. The Queensland LNP and the Queensland current Labor government—

The SPEAKER: I just say to the minister, ‘alternative policies’ don’t go to state election campaigns. They really don’t.

Mr PITT: Of course, Mr Speaker. I will come back to what Labor said and—

The SPEAKER: You just have to get asked the right question. That’s the point. I can’t help you with that.

Mr PITT: Can I have my 10 seconds back?

The SPEAKER: No, you can’t. The member for Ballarat has the call.

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