Questions without notice – Budget

Monday, 24 May 2021

Mr THOMPSON: My question is to the Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia. Will the minister outline how the Morrison government’s plan for economic recovery is backing our minerals industry and its workers across regional Australia, including North Queensland, and is the minister aware of any alternatives?

Mr PITT: I thank the honourable member for the question. We’ve got the bulldog from Flynn and we’ve got the terrier from Townsville—another supporter of the resources sector. And we know why: because over 7,000 jobs in the member’s electorate rely on the resources sector—7,000. That’s direct and indirect.

We know that nickel, copper and zinc head out through the Townsville port. They support our economy. We know the resources sector is on track for record exports in resources and energy: $296 billion. But we are not resting on our laurels. We intend to make sure there is a pipeline of projects coming through. To retain those projects, to retain those jobs in the resources sector, we committed $100 million in tax incentives through the Junior Minerals Exploration Incentive in the budget two weeks ago. We’ve already got money in the Exploring for the Future Fund, and that is ensuring that Geoscience Australia is out there identifying the next Mount Isa, the next Mount Whaleback—the next big find—and that means more jobs inside the resources sector.

I was in the north-west last week, up at Mount Whaleback, one of Australia’s oldest iron ore mines—one of the oldest iron ore mines in the country. What is that doing? It’s $136 billion from the iron ore sector. That is a lot of money. It contributes some $8 billion to the WA state government’s revenue. That is how we pay for the essential services that Australians rely on: hospitals, roads, schools and all of that other support. It’s supporting 45,000 jobs in the west. At Mount Whaleback they tell me the iron ore is of such a high quality you can hold two rocks together and tack them with a welder—just incredible! It’s been around for more than 50 years.

I am asked about alternatives. Well, we heard some alternatives from the member for Hunter this morning! I’d say to the member for Hunter: Stand up. Line up. Join up. We can help you with the New South Wales Nationals. I’ve got some guidance here on membership, if the member for Hunter wants to come on over! If you’re serious, Joel, there’s an opportunity!

But we know that there has been an attempt in recent weeks at a coal pivot from those opposite. The Leader of the Opposition sent out the shadow resources minister, attempting to convince resources workers that they would stand up for them. Well, no-one believes them. That was absolutely demonstrated on the weekend.

Coming back to those alternative options, it would be a shame to see the member for Hunter leave, and I say to the member for Hunter: there are some options here for you. If you can get across to the member for McMahon’s, get your head in the wardrobe, wade through the suits and get to the skinny pile, get to the stack. It doesn’t matter what colour it is—red, green, blue or yellow. I hear the Wiggles are regrouping—

The SPEAKER: I say to the minister—

Mr PITT: I can see the catchline now: wake up, Albo; wake up!

The SPEAKER: No. The minister will refer to members by their correct titles.

Mr PITT: I withdraw.