Question without notice – Resources Sector

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Mr O’DOWD (FlynnDeputy Nationals Whip) (14:59): My question is to the Minister for Resources and Water. Will the minister update the House on how the Morrison-Joyce government’s commitment to sticking to the national plan will help sectors like the resource sector safely reopen and on what opportunities exist for communities such as mine in Flynn? Is the minister aware of any alternative policy approaches?

Mr PITT (HinklerMinister for Resources and Water) (14:59): I thank the member for Flynn. We know where the member stands when it comes to sticking to the national plan. You’ve only got to go to his Facebook page to see his big, smiling dial with a sign that says, ‘I want to reopen Australia.’

This is incredibly important for the resources sector. We have seen BHP this week announce that they will have vaccinations onsite at the Mount Arthur coalmine in the Hunter. They will roll that out through Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. BHP, the Big Australian, recognise how important it is to stick to the national plan. The sector has done a phenomenal job. Throughout the last 12 months, the last financial year, they have hit a record export of $310 billion in a situation without vaccinations. They’ve kept their people safe. Up until very recently there hadn’t been a single outbreak at a resources site. That has meant that they’ve been able to continue to contribute to our economy. They’ve actually put on tens of thousands of jobs, not gone backwards. They know how important it is that we stick to the national plan.

I was asked about alternatives. The alternatives are very straightforward. It is forecast that $344 billion worth of economic activity will occur this financial year. The alternative to that policy is to not stick to the national plan and not deliver that economic boost and increase. We put on tens of thousands of jobs last financial year. There will be tens of thousands of jobs this financial year to hit that target of $344 billion. The alternative policy is to not support the national plan, not deliver more jobs, not deliver more economic activity. We know those opposite are confident in an each-way bet. They need to be out there publicly supporting the national plan because it is important for our country.

We know that there are other options. the other options include saying to resources sector employees: ‘Thank you so much for what you’ve done in the last 12 months. Terribly sorry about the fact you’ve been out there, sometimes away for weeks, sometimes away for months.’ But if we don’t stick with the national plan, that will continue. While I have the opportunity, I want to thank those hardworking men and women in the resources sector, who have gone above and beyond. They have been away literally for weeks, some for months and some have had to move their families from state to state. We cannot continue to add to our economy through the resources sector if there are continual lockdowns, if we stop borders—if we continue the closures. We have a large fly in, fly out workforce. They are necessary and essential for the operation of the resource sector. Sticking to the national plan delivers for our country, delivers for our economy and delivers for the hardworking men and women. They deserve a break.

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