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Friday, 1 September 1989
Page: 807

Senator McKIERNAN —Has the Minister for Resources seen reports of statements by Mr Tenni, the Queensland Minister for Mines and Energy, reporting encouraging prospects for minerals development in Queensland? Does Mr Tenni's bullish forecast include such goldmining ventures as Red Dome? Is this the same Mr Tenni who earlier this year claimed that goldmining in Queensland was on its last legs because it was being asked to pay income tax just like everyone else in Australia? While the Minister is answering my question, can he tell honourable senators whether Mr Tenni still has his job, or has there been another Queensland Government crisis since we last listened to the news?

Senator COOK —The answer to those questions is yes, yes, and yes. I will come back to the last one in due course.

The PRESIDENT —The Minister should deal with those areas that his portfolio covers.

Senator COOK —I will, indeed, Mr President. As I said, the answers are yes to the first question, yes to the second, and yes to the third; and as to the last question, if it is related to my portfolio I will deal with it. I draw the Senate's attention to an article which appeared in the Cairns Post on 24 August and which was headed `Kidston mine pours one millioneth ounce of gold'. The black type subheading states:

Far North Queensland is a prospective area for intensive mineral development, and the number of mining proposals currently being evaluated indicates there could be considerable mining expansion early next century.

The article goes on to say:

The Minister for Mines, Energy and Northern Development, Mr Martin Tenni, said that the mining industry was in a healthy state and would stay that way for decades.

The article quotes from Mr Tenni's speech, in which he particularly picks up the strong performance of the goldmining industry in north Queensland. Not only does Mr Tenni sprout what I believe to be accurate rhetoric about the future of the mining industry in north Queensland and of the goldmining industry in north Queensland, but he also gives some empirical evidence to back up that rhetoric. He cites for example the Red Dome prospect, in which an open cut goldmine has proven up 8.7 million tonnes of high quality ore. He said in his speech:

Gold continues to be the strongest performer in the region . . . There have been three major gold mines commissioned in the past two years and a number of proposed mines are being evaluated.

He talks about a mine project by Barrick Mines and Pancontinental at Croydon. He talks about a consortium of the Macquarie Bank Ltd, the Queensland Industry Development Corporation, and PAMP of Switzerland which is developing a gold refinery at Cairns. He paints a very glowing picture about the future of goldmining into the next century in north Queensland and the support industries that would service it, such as the refinery.

All I can say is that on 6 June I answered a question here rebutting an attack by Mr Tenni on the Commonwealth for extending ordinary taxation to goldmining companies. It may be that Mr Tenni has read that answer and has decided that he shall now support the Commonwealth's case and provide some evidence to justify its position. He has provided the rhetoric and the empirical evidence to justify an ongoing and solid future for the goldmining industry in north Queensland. I understand that Mr Tenni has announced that he will not be contesting his State seat of Barron River at the next election, so he will cease to be the responsible Minister within months. I do not know whether he intends to go into the goldmining industry.