Mr HOWARTH (Petrie) (21:04): It brings in billions of dollars of export income, provides work for more than 750,000 Australians and supports communities right across Australia. I am talking about our mining industry, which accounts for more than six per cent of Australia’s economy and has invested more than $125 billion in Australia in the last 10 years. Australia’s mineral resources are vast, diverse, and of high quality. It is vital that mining companies stay innovative and keep developing new extraction and processing technologies to make sure Australians gain the most from this natural wealth.
My electorate is not home to any mining activities, but it is home to many fly-in and fly-out workers who have contacted me about their industry. I wanted to learn more about the industry to better appreciate the work that these people do in my electorate, so when Senator Dean Smith invited me to his home state of Western Australia for a tour of some of the mines, I jumped at this opportunity. I would like to acknowledge, in particular, Senator Dean Smith, and also the member for Durack, Melissa Price, who came along on the tour with me. I would also like to acknowledge the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA, or CME, for taking us on the tour. It was a great tour and very informative. On our first stop we visited the Woodside Energy visitor centre. Operating for more than 60 years, Woodside is Australia’s largest independent oil and gas company. It is also Australia’s largest producer of LNG, which it sources from its Pluto and Xena gas fields, about 190 kilometres off Karratha, in Western Australia’s north-west. LNG is natural gas—methane—chilled to minus 161 degrees Celsius so that it becomes liquid. Once liquefied, the methane takes up much less space. It would take 600 ships to export in its raw form what one ship could carry in its liquefied form. LNG is driving a huge level of investment, export income and tax revenue for Australia, as well as cleaner energy for Asia. We are providing people in countries like India an energy source that is energy-efficient, clean and easy to transport.
Our mining industry is one of the few that provides employment and business opportunities in Australia’s remote regions. More than 60 per cent of Australian mining neighbours Indigenous communities. We toured a number of iron ore companies, and I was pleased to hear that, among all of them, between 10 and 13 per cent of their workforce is made up of Indigenous Australians. In particular, Fortescue’s Vocational Training and Employment Centre has helped more than 1,000 Aboriginal people through training, support and employment, and they have a goal to reach 20 per cent Indigenous employment.
In conclusion, if the Greens and other environmental groups had their way, we would see one of Australia’s largest industries shut down, jobs lost and our standard of living diminished. Just look at the dishonesty of Greenpeace when they forged a photo of the Great Barrier Reef recently to shut down industry that operates within Queensland waters. They were trying to get the Great Barrier Reef listed as endangered and what did they do? They put up a photo of an Asian reef that was destroyed by a cyclone and tried to pass it off as the Great Barrier Reef. Thankfully, the federal government and the minister, Greg Hunt, were across this, as was the state Labor government in Queensland. They came together and said, ‘This isn’t good enough,’ and we have managed to ensure that this lie was exposed. It is an absolute disgrace.
Some of the Greens’ policies are dangerous. I have been reading a book recently: The Greens: Policies, Reality and Consequences, published by Connor Court Publishing. I want to stress that, if Labor and the Greens get back into power, we know that they will want to bring back their job-destroying mining tax. Miners pay a lot of tax already. They pay 30c in the dollar on every dollar they make, they pay mining royalties to state government and they pay GST. It is important that as a parliament we continue to look for opportunities in this sector and it is important that we continue to protect the local environment so there are places that we can go where there is just no mining at all.