Questions without notice – Resources Industry

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

Mr RICK WILSON (O’Connor) (14:49): My question is to the Minister for Resources and Water. Will the minister update the House on the strength of the resources sector and the plan that Morrison-Joyce government is implementing to streamline and cut red and green tape through reform so we can create more jobs and support regional communities like those across my electorate of O’Connor? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches?

Mr PITT (HinklerMinister for Resources and Water) (14:50): I thank the honourable member for his question. They say all that glitters isn’t gold—but in the member for O’Connor’s electorate a lot of it is, I’d have to say. A lot of gold comes out of the member’s electorate and it is, of course, contributing to Australia’s record exports in resources—$310 billion and 279,000 direct jobs. The member for O’Connor has a big advantage—the ‘super pit’. That’s not a moment of self-reflection! It’s a mine that’s over there—and a very longstanding one.

We want to ensure that we maintain Australia’s competitiveness internationally when it comes to the resources sector. To do that, we want to make sure that we are streamlining environmental processes in particular. We have support from states like Western Australia and we are looking to make sure that we can do that. But there are those that have a different view. Green lawfare is not just someone with a can of spray paint and setting a pram on fire. We know that people like the Environmental Defenders Office have been out there actively pursuing things like closures or stoppages of Acland, on the Darling Downs; Adani, in Central Queensland; Whitehaven, near Gunnedah; Tahmoor, in the Southern Highlands; the Bylong Valley; the Burrup gas development; and the Narrabri gas project, in New South Wales.

The Samuel review found that some of these complex projects can take nearly three years to assess and approve. We are looking to streamline those processes. We are working to ensure that we get more projects up that deliver more jobs, particularly in the member for O’Connor’s electorate over in Western Australia. This is how we pay for the essential services Australians rely on. This is how we pay for schools and roads and hospitals. In fact, in Western Australia, roughly 25 per cent of the budget comes from the resources sector.

People like the Environmental Defenders Office are not supportive. They are looking to stop these projects through green lawfare. The most recent one of course is activity and action against the plans for the Beetaloo Basin. We want to bring that project forward because it will deliver up to 6,000 jobs for the Northern Territory.

I am asked about alternatives. We know that those opposite will say one thing in Moranbah and a different thing in Melbourne. We had an announcement from the member for Isaacs and the member for Sydney at the last election. And what did they commit to? A $14 million funding package for the Environmental Defenders Office. So they say one thing in Melbourne and another thing in Moranbah, and then they look to fund individuals who are looking to stop projects in this country. We want to streamline processes, we want more projects to get up, we want to deliver more jobs and we want to strengthen our economy right across the country. They also said the coalition cut all Commonwealth funding to the EDO. Well, yes, we did. We are absolutely determined to continue the success of the resources sector. It is helping to carry our country. Congratulations to those hardworking men and women.

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