Questions without notice – Regional Australia

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Mr O’DOWD (Flynn): My question is to the Minister for Resources and Water. Will the minister update the House on how the strength of the Australian resources and energy sector and how our plans for a stronger Australia have and will continue to benefit regional Australia in this year’s budget. Is the minister aware of any alternative policy approaches?

Mr PITT: I thank the member for Flynn for his question. I acknowledge Ken and Shirley for their many years of service to their local community. Shirley is in the gallery this afternoon. They’ve served both their local community and the Australian people incredibly well. The member for Flynn will be retiring at the upcoming election.

I was with the member for Flynn last week at the Curragh coalmine in Blackwater. We were out talking to the people who work there. Curragh mine has been in place for many decades delivering for the Australian economy: providing jobs into regional Queensland into the member for Flynn’s electorate, coal into local power stations and export dollars into this country. Those people who are working at the Curragh mine understand how it is that we pay for the commitments we make, like the ones in the most recent budget, where we are delivering record investment into regional Australia. In the member for Flynn’s electorate, very close to mine, we’ve committed $600 million to repair Labor’s failures with Paradise Dam. This is the biggest public infrastructure failure in Australia’s history, requiring $1,200 million worth of repairs. It is an incredible investment but it must be made.

We have to pay for these investments. We have to pay for the essential services Australians rely on. We have to pay for our defence investment. We have to pay for dams, like we’ve made commitments for in Queensland. The resources sector has done an outstanding job over the COVID pandemic. At the outbreak they were forecast to do $246 billion worth of economic activity. They are currently forecast to do $379 billion this financial year. I expect to get an update next week, and they will smash all records. It is an incredible outcome. It allows us to make the commitments like we’ve made in the recent budget, whether that is further support to build new streams of the economy in critical metals or whether it’s to build and strengthen our traditional sectors of coal, oil, gas and others. We need to continue to make a stronger economy for a stronger future for all Australians. Every single worker in the resources sector understands that it is their contribution, the hard work that they do, the taxes that they pay and the royalties that are paid to state governments, that allow us to pay for those essential services, whether they are roads, schools, hospitals or others.

I’m asked about alternatives. We know what the alternatives are from the Greens. The Greens have been out publicly saying that, in a deal with the Labor Party, they would end all new oil, coal and gas projects in this country. They would finish them—$500 billion worth of investments and 80,000 jobs. In fact, they said they’ve got more work to do. There’s unfinished business from the last deal they did with Labor. It is very straightforward. We will continue to support the sector that pays the bills in this country, because we must. We must make a stronger economy. We must build a stronger future for all Australians no matter where they live. Our record investment in regional Australia will help deliver it.

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