Victoria has made a proud contribution to our nation's resources history. Indeed, in some respects, it is the home of our resources industry, going back to the days of the gold rushes and, in more recent times, the use of its extensive brown-coal resources and oil and gas resources. It has played an enormous role in developing our nation.
Senator PATERSON (Victoria) (14:15):
My question is to Minister for Resources and Northern Australia. Minister, as you would no doubt know, Australia's resources and energy export earnings are on track to reach a record $285 billion this financial year. Can the minister update the Senate on how the Liberal-National government is on the side of Australian workers, including by ensuring that Australia's energy export industry remains stronginto the future, particularly in my home state of Victoria?
Senator CANAVAN (Queensland—Minister for Resources and Northern Australia and Deputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:15):
I thank Senator Paterson for his question and recognise that his home state of Victoria has made a proud contribution to our nation's resources history. Indeed, in some respects, it is the home of our resources industry, going back to the days of the gold rushes and, in more recent times, the use of its extensive brown-coal resources and oil and gas resources. It has played an enormous role in developing our nation.
We're also seeking to make sure that Victoria in particular continues to contribute to the future strength of our resources sector. That's why it was so great last week to join my good friend and colleague Senator Birmingham and Minister Tim Pallas from the Victorian government to turn the first sod on the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain project in Victoria, an exciting project for our country. It is a $500 million project which builds on the best of what we have done in the past to develop our resources sector to create future opportunities. It is involving the best science and technology that we have in this country. The CSIRO has been involved. Our Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, has been involved. We have a proud history of being at the cutting edge of developing resources and energy for the world, and we have a new opportunity here in hydrogen. It builds on our record of working with other countries to supply their energy and resource needs.
This $500 million project is jointly funded by the Australian and Victorian governments and by Kawasaki Heavy Industries from Japan. The Victorian and Australian governments are both contributing $50 million to the innovative project, and the Kawasaki Heavy Industries company is contributing the balance. We are working with our partners to supply the region and to develop stronger relationships to the north and are using our natural resources to create jobs, to create opportunities for Australians that will allow us to build a prosperous nation in this country. We in this Liberal-National government will continue to do that. The hydrogen industry potentially creates a new opportunity for those brown-coal resources in the Latrobe Valley and for jobs in Victoria.
Senator Paterson, a supplementary question.
Senator PATERSON (Victoria) (14:17):
What else is the government doing to support the development of a hydrogen export industry and to create more jobs in regional Australia?
Senator CANAVAN (Queensland—Minister for Resources and Northern Australia and Deputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:18):
While this project is very exciting and is a world-first project—the first time creating a liquefied transport of hydrogen to the world—it is not all the government is doing. The Australian government recently contributed another almost $50 million in funds for 16 different hydrogen projects that have been funded by ARENA. Another $26 million has been provided to the Future Fuels CRC to undertake research and development on how to adapt existing infrastructure to hydrogen.
Dr Alan Finkel, our Chief Scientist, has been tasked not only with developing a national hydrogen strategy for the Australian government but also with contributing to the Council of Australian Governments when it works with resource energy ministers across Australia to jointly develop our hydrogen resources and grow this industry for our country. It is a very exciting opportunity that will take decades of work to deliver on the potential promise of hydrogen. We have committed to that and we will continue to build with other like-minded countries in the world to develop this industry for Australia.
The PRESIDENT: Senator Paterson, a final supplementary question.
Senator PATERSON (Victoria) (14:19):
What are the risks to Australia's strong resources and energy export sector?
Senator CANAVAN (Queensland—Minister for Resources and Northern Australia and Deputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:19):
To develop these types of industries, we need strong political support. As I mentioned, it was good to join the Victorian minister Tim Pallas in Victoria, and I recognise their support for the project. There are those that oppose this project, though, and say we shouldn't use our brown coal resources—they're terrible and evil and all these sorts of things. This project will generate around 100 tonnes of carbon dioxide. I was advised last week that that would be about 15 to 20 trips from Melbourne to London on a business class flight. So this particular project is one climate change conference, perhaps much less than that.
It's a very important innovation—that we do this and support these projects. I also call on the Victorian government to support the development of their gas resources, not just their hydrogen resources. Hydrogen has enormous potential for decades to come, but we need Victorian gas to develop sooner rather than later to make sure we protect the thousands of manufacturing jobs that exist in Victoria today and, hopefully, will exist in the future—providing we have common sense from the Victorian government soon.