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Wednesday, 16 February 2005
Page: 73

Mr WAKELIN (2:39 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources. Would the minister advise the House of the contribution Australia's resource sector is making to the nation's economic wellbeing?

Mr IAN MACFARLANE (Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources) —I thank the member for Grey for his ongoing support of the resources sector in what is a very big resources electorate. In terms of the performance of the resources sector, it is worth noting in this House just how well our resources sector is going. If we compare the forecast value of the resources sector exports this financial year with last financial year, we see some very good results: iron ore up 35 per cent to $7.1 billion, aluminium up seven per cent to $3.7 billion, alumina up six per cent to $4 billion, metallurgical coal up 52 per cent to $9.9 billion, thermal coal up 43 per cent to $6.2 billion and uranium up 25 per cent to $455 million. What we are seeing is a $65 billion boom for the resources sector, up 20 per cent on the previous year, with almost a $10 billion potential investment in capital expenditure.

This performance has not happened by accident. It has happened as a result of the reforms of the Howard government and the strength in investment in the resources sector in Australia, which ensures that we remain competitive and sustainable. There are threats to that and they come from those who sit opposite. They come in the form of a draconian labour market. They come in the form of a Labor Party that is reluctant to invest in infrastructure as outlined by the Treasurer.

The SPEAKER —The member for Hotham is warned!

Mr Martin Ferguson —Tell us about the skills shortage!

The SPEAKER —The member for Batman is also warned!

Mr IAN MACFARLANE —They come from this blind faith in Kyoto, which would see many of these industries driven offshore. They come from the three-mine policy, although I notice the member for Batman no longer supports that—an interesting decision from the member for Batman, which I think is enlightening for those who sit opposite. In contrast to that, we have a government that is committed to ensuring that the resources sector in Australia not only continues to contribute to the economic wellbeing of this nation but continues to provide jobs for Australians.