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Monday, 18 June 2018
Page: 3058

Mining Industry

Senator MARTIN (Tasmania) (14:33): My question is to Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Senator Canavan. Can the minister update the Senate on the contribution the resources sector makes to the Australian economy?

Senator CANAVAN (QueenslandMinister for Resources and Northern Australia) (14:33): I thank Senator Martin for his question. It's a bit easier to hear him now in his new position in the chamber! I congratulate him on joining the National Party, a great party that defends the resources sector and defends the jobs that come from these industries that provide wealth for Australia. I also recognise the strong history of the Tasmanian resources industry. It's had some of the biggest and best minds in our history, and it has helped power their economic development over the years.

The mining sector is also continuing to power the economic development of Australia as a whole. In the past fortnight the economic growth figures came down, which showed a one per cent increase in quarter-on-quarter growth and a 3.1 per cent increase from March last year. As the ABS's chief economist, Bruce Hockman, said:

Growth in exports accounted for half the growth in GDP, and reflected strength in exports of mining commodities.

In the March quarter, mining made up 56.6 per cent of Australia's total exports. Of that, 19.2 per cent was coal, 13.5 per cent were oil and gas and 23.2 per cent was ore mining. This is incredibly important to thousands of jobs around Australia. Over 200,000 people are now employed in the mining sector, more than double what it was before the mining boom. It is great to see the continued strength of demand for Australian coal, some of the best quality, cleanest coal in the world. It's continuing to be in rude demand right across the globe. Coal prices at the moment are up to places they haven't been since the mining boom. The ABS commented, in reporting the results:

This quarter featured the biggest rise in Coal Mining since September quarter 2014 due to strong demand for thermal coal.

This is good news for Australia. It is good news for the thousands of people who rely on a strong coalmining sector for their jobs and their futures.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Martin, a supplementary question.

Senator MARTIN (Tasmania) (14:35): How is the strength of the resources sector helping governments fund essential services like health and education around Australia?

Senator CANAVAN (QueenslandMinister for Resources and Northern Australia) (14:36): In the last couple of weeks the Queensland budget came down. It showed a significant increase in royalties, as you'd expect, given the strength of the coalmining sector. Coal royalties increased by $1.3 billion in that budget. That has helped fund essential services in that state. Through things like the GST redistribution process it will also help the whole country fund essential health, education and other public services. If we did not have a mining sector, we would not be able to fund the standard of living we all expect right around Australia. Not just in those states with strong mining industries that have seen significant investment in mining but right around Australia we rely on sectors like mining that provide wealth and can pay taxes to make sure we can have a very high standard of living.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Martin, a final supplementary question.

Senator MARTIN (Tasmania) (14:37): What do we need to do to take advantage of this renewed confidence to create jobs and investment in my home state of Tasmania?

Senator CANAVAN (QueenslandMinister for Resources and Northern Australia) (14:37): I thank Senator Martin for his question. As I mentioned, Tasmania has a rich history of resources and potentially has a strong future too. I note that, along with the good news on mining commodity prices, in the March quarter there was a significant, five per cent increase in mineral exploration. Those are the green shoots for the mining sector. What we explore today will turn into products in the future. Drilling metres rose by 13.5 per cent over the past year, a huge increase. I know from talking to them that there is a shortage of drillers around the country at the moment. Significantly, exploration in Tasmania has gone up to $22.5 million, an recent increase of $6 million—figures not seen since 2014. That is positive news for projects like the Rogetta iron ore mine in Tasmania, which will potentially provide hundreds of jobs in Tasmania.