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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 3217

Ms HALL (ShortlandGovernment Whip) (11:21): It is with great pleasure and passion that I rise to speak on the motion that we have before the House this morning on the importance of the minerals resource rent tax. I congratulate the member for Hunter for bringing this very important motion to the House.

This is a motion that has an enormous importance for electorates like the one that I represent in this parliament. It is addressing the capacity constraints that exist in our area and making sure that the minerals resource rent tax is spent in areas such as the one I represent. Those on the other side of the House may not be as aware, as we on this side of the House are, of the important roles the Hunter, Central Coast, and Lake Macquarie have played in mining throughout the ages. They may not be aware of the enormous implications and capacity constraints that have arisen due to the impact of mining. For once, this is about putting some money back into areas that have given so much to Australia and have been responsible for the strength of our economy. At one stage the Shortland electorate in New South Wales had the most coalmines in the country. I ask myself and the parliament what the mining companies have put back into the electorate as a result of its enormous contribution to Australia and the contribution of its men in those mines. The answer is: not much. We still have problems with traffic in the electorate, with coal trucks travelling from the mines to the port. There are enormous capacity constraints and problems with dust and other health issues. We have given a lot more than we have received. The minerals resource rent tax is an opportunity for the companies to put something back into areas such as the Hunter and the Central Coast.

The Belmont Wetlands in my electorate have been denuded by mining, and the community has been fighting to ensure the land is rehabilitated and the area becomes available for the people of Shortland. BHP gave the wetlands back to the community, but they gave back a very denuded piece of land. It needs some major infrastructure investment so that we can allow commercial development and community access. For a long time all residents of Lake Macquarie have been arguing for the Glendale interchange.

As I have already indicated to the House, Lake Macquarie has a rich history in coalmining and it has given a lot more than it has received. The minerals resource rent tax is an opportunity to put something back into electorates such as mine and the other electorates in the Hunter. There are 50 coalmines in the Hunter and a port that is responsible for shipping coal out of Newcastle. We have constraints on coal loaders, causing delays for ships waiting to dock and load. I would argue strongly that areas such as the area I represent in this parliament need to have these infrastructure constraints addressed, and how better to address those infrastructure constraints than to implement a minerals resource rent tax?