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Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Page: 297


Senator O'SULLIVAN (Queensland) (14:32): My question is to the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Senator Canavan. Can the minister outline to the Senate what role the resources sector has played in Australia's recent record trade surplus?

Senator CANAVAN (QueenslandMinister for Resources and Northern Australia) (14:32): I thank Senator O'Sullivan for his question. I love getting questions from Senator O'Sullivan because he is positive about the potential of our resources industry to drive economic growth in our country and create jobs. He knows it well in the area that he is from in Western Queensland, and it is also important in my part of the world in Central Queensland as well. He is right to point out that it is a happy moment for this country that we have recorded a record trade surplus on Friday just gone. In the latest statistics we now have a trade surplus of almost $6 billion—$5.8 billion. It has increased by $5.3 billion. It is a record amount. It is the highest amount on record in this nation. $3.2 billion of that $5.3 billion increase was down to an increase in mining and resources exports. So it was something that was driven by the resources sector in some sense. For the mining sector it was also a record amount of mining exports in December 2016 of $16 billion. That is a happy outcome for our nation, too.

So the idea that the mining boom is over or finished is wrong. People who make that claim are dead wrong. The mining boom has not finished, because we are exporting record amounts of mining commodities in history. We have never exported as much iron ore and coal as we are at the moment. Thankfully for us, in the last six months the prices have also been at elevated levels. Those prices may not be maintained at those levels we have seen, and some have certainly come off in the last few months, but we will continue to export near record amounts over the next few years because our sector is very strong and very competitive. It has some of the most efficient coal and iron ore mines and other mines in the world. That is a good outcome for our nation and for the thousands of people who rely on the industry for their jobs.

The PRESIDENT: Is there a supplementary question, Senator O'Sullivan?