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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5269

Mr GRAY (BrandMinister for Small Business, Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism) (21:26): It is a good time to be in resources in Australia. It is no accident that Australia has the reputation of being a safe and secure place to invest. With a $400 billion investment in our resources and energy sector over the past decade, the proof is genuinely there for all to see. What is also there for all to see is the tremendous work that has been done by resources ministers in the past. I speak of course not only of my predecessor, Martin Ferguson, but also of his predecessor, Ian Macfarlane. The truth of the resources portfolio in the context of the Australian parliament is that it sits in a special position supported by both sides of politics and supported because of the great wealth that it generates for our country, the great lifestyle it creates in our hinterland and the great jobs that it produces.

The Australian investment pipeline is the largest, most productive investment pipeline of any country the world has ever seen. We still have an estimated $268 billion pipeline of committed capital investment projects in around 73 committed resources and infrastructure projects around the country. Indeed, in the six months to April 2013, 21 projects with a combined capital cost of $15.3 billion were completed.

The numbers are staggering, but what they mean for the future wealth and productivity of our nation is genuinely a matter for interest and for support by our parliament. Not only did this investment pipeline generate jobs in the construction phase of the mines and processing plants but also, when those mines and processing plants reach production phase, they will support hundreds of thousands of jobs in mine services, in mine operations, in minerals processing, in kitchens in mines and in the communities that support the families who work in mines.

This transformed resource economy is an economy that produces not simply wealth for our nation and is not simply the great balancer in our export accounts but genuinely produces life and lifestyles for our community. It pays for mortgages. It trains young men and young women for productive jobs in the future. And the resources sector, singly, of all of the employment sectors in our economy, has done more than any other sector to provide training, jobs and a livelihood for the Indigenous people of our country. On any given mine site on any given day at any given time, we now know that we will find Indigenous workers proudly learning a skill, driving a truck, operating a piece of processing equipment, earning an income and living a lifestyle that 20 years ago some of the great miners of our country could only ever aspire to. That reality is now here and it is here because of the very deep penetration of the new projects we have seen in iron ore, in coal, in nickel, in copper, in uranium, in oil and gas, in sophisticated minerals processing such as magnetite production and sophisticated minerals processing in nickel and copper and in sophisticated minerals processing such as LNG production.

This transformed economy is an economy that, nurtured properly, cared for properly, has the capacity to underwrite the future of our nation. It has the capacity to underwrite the future education of children not yet born and it has the capacity to fund the retirements of people who are currently working. The value of our resources sector to our nation is not simply that stuff is taken out of the ground and put on a boat and sent off to a customer, it is that serious, sophisticated value adding takes place in regional communities and that adds life and vigour to those communities and gives life and vigour to our country. It is impossible to overstate the importance of our resources sector and therefore the budget measures that support it.