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Monday, 19 March 2018
Page: 1374

Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (13:06): For clarification, Senator Bartlett: you read some numbers that I don't know actually align with what had been circulated. You moved the amendment on sheet 8384, didn't you?

Senator Bartlett: Yes.

Senator O'NEILL: Thank you. Labor will not be supporting the Greens amendment. We heard some extraordinary words from Senator Bartlett here this morning. The reality is that over the five years to 2015-16 expenditure on greenfield exploration around Australia dropped by 70 per cent. That's just a fact. It's a reality that the Greens seem to be completely unaware of. We heard the member stand up and say that they support mining and exploration, but they don't. And clearly they have decided on a strategy here today that for media simplicity they're going to oppose this legislation. We heard Senator Bartlett say that $100 million is not a good investment, despite the reality of that maximum decline in exploration—70 per cent—in the last five years, up to 2015-16. We need to be doing something for people in the regions who actually require sound investment in exploration. If the Greens want to be taken seriously and to genuinely participate in the debate around mining, they need to engage with stakeholders, and we know that hasn't been the case.

Labor is the party that, I'm very proud to say, has been very much involved in facilitating a timely review of this scheme. Our amendments, which I'll move shortly, will seek to do that careful review of the investment in exploration into the future. We actually believe in and support evidence based policymaking. We understand that the mining sector is broad, that it employs a lot of Australians in regional parts of the country. Labor takes the mining sector seriously, Labor takes jobs seriously and Labor takes regional Australia seriously. The Greens need to engage much more seriously with the opportunity to grow jobs in a sustainable way throughout the regions of Australia, and this piece of legislation seeks to do that in an evidence based and careful way.