Last week, the Queensland Coordinator-General approved a new coalmine in North Queensland, the Macmines China Stone project, a $6.7 billion investment that would create 3,800 jobs in construction and 3,300 jobs in operation. It would help boost the Queensland economy by $1½ billion a year when it's in operation, and, very importantly, it would generate almost $190 million a year in royalties for the Queensland government, helping to fund better schools, better hospitals and better public services right throughout Queensland, in particular in North Queensland.
Senator STOKER (Queensland) (14:49):
My question is to the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Senator Canavan. Can the minister update the Senate on any new developments in the resources sector and explain how these are contributing to more jobs in my home state of Queensland?
Senator CANAVAN (Queensland—Minister for Resources and Northern Australia) (14:49):
I thank Senator Stoker for her question because I know that, in particular, Senator Stoker wants to see jobs and economic activity in the great state of Queensland. There was some good news last week about job creation in Queensland. We on this side of the chamber support the creation of jobs—we support those who want to work in their life to provide for their family—and new investments and new projects help to do that.
Last week, the Queensland Coordinator-General approved a new coalmine in North Queensland, the Macmines China Stone project, a $6.7 billion investment that would create 3,800 jobs in construction and 3,300 jobs in operation. It would help boost the Queensland economy by $1½ billion a year when it's in operation, and, very importantly, it would generate almost $190 million a year in royalties for the Queensland government, helping to fund better schools, better hospitals and better public services right throughout Queensland, in particular in North Queensland. This is a very important project, given that we need jobs in North Queensland right now.
Last week as well there was some not-so-good news released for North Queensland. That confirmed that in Townsville the unemployment rate has averaged 8.9 per cent over the past 12 months. As Senator Cormann was outlining earlier, there's been a buoyant job market around the country, with more than 300,000 jobs created in the last 12 months, but there are still pockets of North Queensland that are struggling, and they need economic fill-ups like these projects. That's why we support them—because investments like this are going to create jobs; they're going to create opportunity; and they are going to have a wider economic impact than just the mine itself, because this mine is right next-door to the Adani Carmichael mine. If we have multiple mines starting up, that will support more infrastructure, more development and more economic activity in the region as well, which will help communities right through North Queensland. It's great news for North Queensland, great news for Queensland and great news for the whole of Australia.
Senator Stoker, a supplementary question.
Senator STOKER (Queensland) (14:51):
Minister, what is standing in the way of further economic and jobs growth in Queensland?
Senator CANAVAN (Queensland—Minister for Resources and Northern Australia) (14:51):
You would like to think that most of us in this chamber would support jobs and support investments in great Australian industries like the Australian coal industry, which is our nation's largest export, but unfortunately the Australian Labor Party, who used to apparently represent workers and labourers and people who like to work outside, don't do that anymore. In their Climate Change Action Plan, the Labor Party say they support the 'orderly transition' away from the coal-fired-power industry. Indeed, in the Labor Party's policy platform—this is a direct quote—they say:
Labor will establish a Just Transition Unit in the Department of Environment to co-ordinate—
this transition. So, Mr President—
Honourable senators interjecting—
Order on my left!
Mr President, I have a point of order. Senator Hanson-Young is making the most vile insinuations against the minister and impugning his character. I'd ask her to withdraw them or to cease making those interjections.
I was having trouble hearing the minister and was about to call the chamber to order, so I didn't hear any interjections. Senator Canavan hasn't taken objection. If anyone did make any comments that are unparliamentary, they should withdraw them. Senator Hanson-Young?
Mr President, I don't believe it was unparliamentary. I was referring to whether the mining industry was looking to profit from the words of Senator Canavan.
For the benefit of the chamber and for you, Mr President: Senator Hanson-Young was saying: 'How much have they paid you for this? Do they pay you per word? How much money do they give you?' It's a vile character assassination by—
Thank you, Senator Bernardi. The standing rule of the Senate on disrespect is that, if that was not heard by the chair—if it was indeed said, I would ask her to withdraw, but I take what a senator says about what they did say at face value if it's not on the record. Senator Hanson-Young?
I did say those words. I withdraw them.
Thank you, Senator Hanson-Young.
As I was commenting, it's unbelievable that the Australian Labor Party would establish a unit in the government to take people out of work. That's the idea of the Just Transition Unit: it's not to get people into work; it is just to get them out of work.
Opposition senators interjecting—
Order on my left. Senator Stoker, a final supplementary question.
Senator STOKER (Queensland) (14:54):
Are there any recent announcements that might impact the development of the Galilee Basin and the resources sector as a whole?
Senator CANAVAN (Queensland—Minister for Resources and Northern Australia) (14:54):
The development of the Galilee Basin—it would be the first coal basin opened up in Australia for 50 years—would be of enormous benefit to our country. To your question, Senator Stoker, through you, Mr President, what really has been lacking are announcements on this development. Normally, a $6.7 billion project being approved by the Queensland government Coordinator-General would receive a level of support from the Queensland government. You'd think they'd be happy to promote the fact that Queensland's a state that's attracting investment and promoting this factor. There has not been boo from the Queensland government. They're ashamed of the coal industry; they're ashamed of standing next to coal workers. If you're working in the coal industry in this country or you know someone who's working in the coal industry, don't trust your job with the Australian Labor Party and don't trust your job with Mr Bill Shorten, because they cannot be trusted, they do not support the industry and, indeed, they're looking to shut it all down.