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Thursday, 20 June 2013
Page: 6583

Mr CHRISTENSEN (Dawson) (11:58): Across the state of Queensland, mining is one of the key industries. It is certainly one of the main generators of employment in the state, either directly or indirectly. In some cases, the indirect means are still pretty direct. For instance, there are mining service companies which employ people who actually go out on the mine sites. While they are not directly employed by the mines, they classify themselves as miners.

The Mackay region, including the entire electorate of Dawson, is the epicentre of the mining industry, being right on the doorstep of the Bowen Basin. Mackay prides itself on being a hub for the mining services sector. The big problem is that in the last 12 months we have seen in excess of 6,000 jobs disappear from the mining sector across the state, and it is certainly hitting home. Today I have the sad duty to report to the House that 200 jobs have been shed by Hastings Deering, one of those mining services industries. Those jobs will be cut from their Rockhampton and Mackay divisions. In recent times we have seen the shut down of the Aquila mine, another central Queensland mine operating near Moranbah, where 80 jobs were shed. Last year the Gregory mine was also closed down. Numerous mines have closed down. Almost every month we see a number of mines shut down. The impact of this on the mining services sector in Mackay is diabolical.

This week the Mackay Area Industry Network, which is a chamber of commerce for the mining services industries, released a survey of their members. That survey found that 83 per cent of member companies reported a decrease in performance over the last nine months and the average decrease was 35.6 per cent. That represents a potential conservative economic loss to the sector of over $250 million. Almost a third of the businesses expected a further decline in the next six months and, alarmingly, they reported that they think about seven people per business will lose their job. That equates to the loss of almost 1,700 jobs from our region in the next six months. That is a diabolical situation.

When we look at the reasons that these jobs are being shed, the top two are due to pressure from the overall downturn in the coal sector and the pricing pressure that these mining supply businesses face from the miners. In the top five is the impact from the carbon tax and in the top 10 is the impact from the mining tax. Both the carbon tax and the mining tax add to the first two reasons that I indicated—that is, the mining sector is being squeezed and therefore there is a downturn, and the mining sector is looking for price reductions from its suppliers.

This is exacerbated by the campaign from the Greens which is demonising the coal industry, mining and all the hardworking miners in my electorate. I have a letter from Greenpeace in which they say civil disobedience is needed to prevent the expansion of the coal industry. They say the reason they are pushing this is that the coal industry is responsible for the deadly bushfires that ravaged Australia in January. Imagine equating the cause of bushfires with the work that people in my electorate are doing for this nation. That is despicable. That is outrageous. That combined with the policies of this government in introducing a carbon tax and a mining tax have led to the decimation of the mining industry. These policies are having real impacts and real consequences across my electorate. People are losing jobs on a weekly basis. They are not able to put food on the table and they have large debts that they cannot service anymore—all because of government policy. The rot needs to stop. We need to stop pandering to the Greens. We need to get rid of the monkey that is on the back of the mining sector and on the back of the mining services sector. Under a Liberal-National coalition government these policies will go, but I fear that the wait until the election will be far too long.