Question without notice – Resources Sector

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Mr O’DOWD: My question is to the Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia. Will the minister update the House on the resilience of the resource sector and highlight how the Morrison government is assisting this important sector to position Australia for a strong start in 2021 and driving jobs in regional Australia?

Mr PITT: I thank the honourable member for his question. We’re back to business, Mr Speaker. The member for Flynn is better known, not only locally but here, as ‘the bulldog’—the fighter for Flynn. And it’s so important in his electorate, the resilience of the resources sector, with 16 coalmines dotted across his electorate, and the port of Gladstone, one of Australia’s biggest export ports for coal, LNG, aluminium, grain and cement—there are a lot of things going out through Gladstone, in 1,900 vessels a year—all adding to jobs; all adding to the local economy.

We were in Gladstone last week with the Prime Minister down at Auckland House. The power and the strength of the member for Flynn! He arranged two coal ships to be loaded in the background, and mid-speech an LNG tanker arrived, which I think was a great reflection on the strength of the resources sector and the strength of that area of Central Queensland and that area around Gladstone.

The resources sector has been a cornerstone of our economy. In this area, the member for Flynn’s area, the coal sector employs 3½ thousand people; 3½ thousand are employed in the member’s electorate. They continue to drive our economic recovery.

We need to talk about facts. We can forget the misinformation—some of the things which get put out publicly. If we talk about facts, the value of Australian coal exports in December increased by 26 per cent from November, worth $3.7 billion to the Australian economy, and that is despite all of the global challenges of the pandemic and otherwise. In fact, resources in total, for the 12 months to December, were up $272.5 billion. That is a testament to the hard work of the men and women of the sector. That is a reflection on getting through the pandemic and driving our economy. What a great result!

The ABS noted, just last week, employment in mining jumped by 22,000 people—nearly 10 per cent in the three months to November last year—providing jobs for 264,000 Australians. Coalmining was the standout, up 25 per cent, with an extra 11,000 people, and it has increased by 23 per cent over the year. That is the highest number of Australians employed in the coal sector since 2012.

Now, that does not sound like a sector in decline. That sounds to me like the resources sector is increasing, not decreasing. Jobs are going up, not going down. The sector is driving forward out of the pandemic, not going backwards. And I know the Treasurer is very happy about the fact that the resources sector continues to kick goals, because that is the money that we rely on to pay for the services that Australians require and desire. And that is what we’ll continue to do—we will continue to support the resources sector in the member for Flynn’s electorate and right across Australia, because they are delivering for us and they are delivering for our country.

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