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Thursday, 13 September 2018
Page: 6363


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (14:46): I'm delighted and excited to be able to ask the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia a question about an important activity in North and Central Queensland.

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I ask the minister: is he aware—

The PRESIDENT: Order on my left! A number of senators on my left have been particularly voluble today, and I will—

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: I've just been advised by the Clerk the clock starts after the minister is identified.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: I don't think anyone can claim to be innocent on tiny preambles to questions this week.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I can understand why the Labor Party don't want to hear about this.

The PRESIDENT: Turn to the question.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I ask the minister: can he confirm that Adani today announced the new design for the rail line linking the Abbot Point port to the Carmichael coalmine in central Queensland? I ask the minister: can he advise the Senate just how important this 200-kilometre-long rail line that has a capacity of some 40 million tonnes of coal per annum is? How important is that to Queensland and Australia as a whole?

Senator CANAVAN (QueenslandMinister for Resources and Northern Australia) (14:47): I thank Senator Macdonald for his question. As he rightly outlined, it is a very important question about the future of not just North Queensland but also our nation. Adani made a very important announcement today in Rockhampton that they are proceeding with this project with a changed design for their rail line. Their original design was a 388-kilometre rail line, which was sabotaged for political reasons by the Queensland Labor Party to try to win an election, sabotaged to try to trade off jobs in Northern and Central Queensland for votes in Brisbane. That's what they were trying to do. But isn't it great news that, despite the best efforts of the Labor Party, these jobs may still be delivered for North and Central Queensland and for Australia? This announcement shows there is a commitment to open up the Galilee Basin, a commitment that would unlock not just this particular mine but other mines as well that could deliver up to 15,000 direct mining jobs across the region that are extremely important for our country.

The problem is that we still have questions about the position of the Australian Labor Party on this project. Earlier this year Mr Shorten was asked for his thoughts on Adani, and Mr Shorten said, 'I make no secret that I don't like it very much.' That was Mr Shorten's view. He doesn't like the creation of jobs. There is still, however, a problem, because we still have a bit of a secret about the position of people on the other side. There's Senator Watt, who is a regular fly-in fly-out visitor to Rockhampton. We don't know what his view is on this issue. Does he not like it very much when thousands of new members are created for the CFMMEU? He might not like it very much, but we don't really know. What's Senator Ketter's position on this? Does he like it very much when thousands of North Queenslanders get opportunities to have a job and have a go in life? Does he like that very much? I'm not going to miss you, Senator Chisholm. What's Senator Chisholm's view on this project? We still don't know if they are going to have a senator in Central Queensland; we don't know their view of this imaginary Central Queensland senator.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Macdonald, a supplementary question?

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (14:50): I thank the minister for that very exciting answer for this wonderful project in Central Queensland and North Queensland. I ask the minister if he could—

The PRESIDENT: Senator Whish-Wilson, on a point of order?

Senator Whish-Wilson: Just yesterday, Senator Macdonald raised the issue of preambles and making value judgements and statements at the beginning of a question. He is a bloody hypocrite. He has just done it twice.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Cormann, on a point of order?

Senator Cormann: I ask Senator Whish-Wilson to withdraw.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Whish-Wilson, I ask you to withdraw that.

Senator Whish-Wilson: I will withdraw that.

Senator Cameron interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Cormann, on a point of order?

Senator Cormann: Senator Cameron just made the same assertion. I would ask you to ask him to withdraw.

The PRESIDENT: I didn't hear that. If you did make it, Senator Cameron, I ask you to withdraw it.

Senator Cameron: I withdraw.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Macdonald, please continue your question.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I understand why the Labor Party and particularly the Greens don't want to hear about this. I ask the minister how this announcement by that wonderful company of Adani can assist the expansion of the Galilee Basin and further employment and economic growth in northern Australia?

Senator CANAVAN (QueenslandMinister for Resources and Northern Australia) (14:51): As Senator Macdonald outlined, there are other opportunities here beyond just this particular proposal. There are six proposed mines at the moment in the Galilee Basin, delivering more than 15,000 jobs. This particular rail line would kickstart those opportunities. It would open up those opportunities through the basin. The important thing about today's announcement is that while Adani's proposed new line is shorter than their previous proposal—it will hook into the existing Aurizon rail network—it will still be able to take the proposed original 40 million tonnes per annum along that line. In Adani's first stage, they are proposing to use 27.5 million tonnes of that capacity. There is still capacity there for new projects. I'm advised that, with minimal upgrades, the capacity could be up to 100 million tonnes per annum. That means more revenue for our country, more royalties for the Queensland government, more tax revenue for Australia and better services for all Australians.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Macdonald, a final supplementary question?

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (14:52): Does the minister recall the lies by the Greens political party and the Labor Party about the global coal market? I further ask the minister: how does this announcement contradict those lies and misinformation by the Greens political party, in particular, and the Australian Labor Party on the global coal market?

Senator CANAVAN (QueenslandMinister for Resources and Northern Australia) (14:52): I don't spend too much time looking at what the Greens have to say on these issues, but it is important what the Australian Labor Party says. Just the other week, Mr Albanese was on Q&A saying that the global coal market is in structural decline. Just to clarify the facts in this place, in the 12 months to July coal not only achieved a record amount of exports for Australia but became the biggest export in our nation. In the 12 months to July it overtook iron ore as our biggest export. But according to the Labor Party, who apparently represent CFMMEU workers, it is a market in structural decline. They are talking down the job prospects and livelihoods of their own voters and their own members for political purposes.

It has been a great week for coal, because not only have we had this announcement today but we also had Clean Coal Day in Japan this week. They are celebrating coal in Japan. I couldn't make it, unfortunately; but the Victorian government sent someone, so that was something. We celebrate coal on this side of politics, and we celebrate its jobs. Isn't it great to see more of them being created?

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: I remind senators of my demand to hear questions in silence.