To maintain our strong economy we must continue to develop the resources of our nation. It's also important to continue to do that to help secure our nation. In history, in the past, we were a proud producer of oil.
Senator BROCKMAN (Western Australia—Deputy Government Whip in the Senate) (14:53):
My question is to the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Senator Canavan. How is the Liberal-National government building the economy through strong budget management and programs for northern Australia and, in particular, by supporting new opportunities for oil and gas development in the north-west of my home state of Western Australia?
Senator CANAVAN (Queensland—Minister for Resources and Northern Australia and Deputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:53):
I thank Senator Brockman for his question. He's a very proud supporter of the great resources state of Western Australia. To maintain our strong economy we must continue to develop the resources of our nation. It's also important to continue to do that to help secure our nation. In history, in the past, we were a proud producer of oil. In fact, less than 20 years ago Australia produced 96 per cent of its raw petroleum needs domestically. Since that time, Bass Strait has declined, as has the North West Shelf, and today we produce less than 50 per cent of our raw petroleum needs. So we should look to secure more supply, and that's exactly what the federal government is doing. We're not going to find more oil unless we drill, explore and do the science you need to do to find what's underground. Together with the West Australian government, the federal government has funded a drill well about 214 kilometres east of Marble Bar—in country I'm sure that Senator Brockman knows well—that is an exciting prospect for a future oil and gas frontier. The core well is about a kilometre down. We've got about a kilometre to go. It should be done by the end of the year with results known in mid-next year.
Why this is exciting is that the early estimates are that there could be something in the order of 860 billion barrels of oil in the Canning Basin. Not all that will be recoverable but even if five or 10 per cent can be recovered, which is often a recovery rate used in the industry, about 43 billion barrels of oil could be there. That is equivalent to the Permian Basin in the United States, which the United States Geological Survey updated last year to contain 46 billion barrels of oil. So this is a potential world-class resource—
Senator Whish-Wilson interjecting—
which would not only help secure oil production and reserves for this country, to help our national security, but help spur economic development for the great state of Western Australia, which already does so well with its world-class iron ore and gas.
Senator Brockman, a supplementary question?
Senator BROCKMAN (Western Australia—Deputy Government Whip in the Senate) (14:56):
Thank you, Minister, for that answer. Minister, what is the resource potential of the Canning Basin in the north-west of Western Australia and how could this support new jobs in my home state?
Senator CANAVAN (Queensland—Minister for Resources and Northern Australia and Deputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:56):
As I was saying, this resource is potentially of a size similar to those in the United States. Those that have followed this, or looked at this, could easily see the development of their shale oil resources—the Canning Basin is also a shale oil resource—in the US has helped rekindle the manufacturing industry and jobs in the US, and brought jobs back to the US that had left over the last couple of decades to other countries with cheaper manufacturing.
I believe in manufacturing in this country. I believe we should support our manufacturing sector and anybody in this place—and I can hear a few people whispering in my ear over there—who says no to the development of our oil and gas resources is also saying no to manufacturing jobs in this country. And if you say no to resource development you are also saying no to jobs and you're especially saying no to good high-paying jobs in our factories across Australia.
Senator Whish-Wilson interjecting—
Senator Whish-Wilson, I have called you to order numerous times. Senator Brockman, a final supplementary question?
Senator BROCKMAN (Western Australia—Deputy Government Whip in the Senate) (14:57):
Minister, what else is the Liberal-National government doing to support resource development in northern Australia?
Senator CANAVAN (Queensland—Minister for Resources and Northern Australia and Deputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:57):
The well I was commenting on or talking about in those first two questions is being funded. It's a $5 million exploratory well. It's being funded through our $100 million Exploring for the Future program. That program is all about trying to find new resources for Australia.
The first major mineral find in Australia was 1859. It was found by a wombat basically, or a stockman saw a wombat kicking up some rocks. They looked a bit green. It ended up being copper. And that's pretty much how every resource has been found in this country since—not so much with a wombat but with finding rocks and drilling from there. Our Exploring for the Future program is all about looking below the surface, using seismic testing, aeromagnetic testing, to look below the surface to make new minerals finds where there's no surface mineralisation. In fact, we're doing the world's largest aeromagnetic survey right now across Western Australia and the Northern Territory. That's due to be completed soon under this program. There have already been major finds as part of this program and companies are starting to invest on the back of it. It's a great initiative to help build jobs and economic opportunity in Australia.