It is one of the most important sectors in Queensland because it employs 300,000 Queenslanders in both direct and indirect jobs. Brisbane is the biggest mining town in Queensland, with 128,000 people living in Brisbane owing their livelihoods, owing their jobs, to a strong resources sector.
Senator McGRATH (Queensland) (14:48):
My question is to the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Senator Canavan. Could the minister please update the Senate on any recent developments relating to the mining sector in Queensland and the impact that those developments will have on this very important industry?
Senator CANAVAN (Queensland—Minister for Resources and Northern Australia) (14:49):
Thank you to Senator McGrath for his question. He knows and those of us on this side know how important the resources sector is to the great state of Queensland and, indeed, how important it is to the nation. It is one of the most important sectors in Queensland because it employs 300,000 Queenslanders in both direct and indirect jobs. Brisbane is the biggest mining town in Queensland, with 128,000 people living in Brisbane owing their livelihoods, owing their jobs, to a strong resources sector.
That is what we on this side of politics want to see and promote because it delivers so much wealth to the state. It delivers wealth to regional areas as well, such as where I'm from in Fitzroy in Central Queensland. The resources industry employs 10,000 people, paying $1.2 billion a year in wages. That works out to be $120,000 a year on average for each of those workers, and the mining industry pays the highest wages on average of any industry in this country by far.
We want to support that industry, but unfortunately there are moves afoot by the Queensland government to impose a massive new cost on the Queensland resources sector just as some green shoots are emerging in that sector. The Queensland government is considering strengthening rehabilitation laws in that state. I should say up-front that the industry supports stronger laws for rehabilitation. Our government supports state governments properly regulating rehabilitation laws. The problem is that secret amendments, amendments that have not been put through public scrutiny, are being negotiated and pushed by Jackie Trad against the resources sector. It is clear that the agenda here is to hurt the mining sector and to hurt mining jobs, not to protect the environment. That is what is going on.
We learned today that a report by Ernst & Young shows that 16 mines are at high risk and 11 mine owners could be insolvent if these laws go through. But we're hearing nothing from the Labor Party, who are meant to represent workers. We are hearing absolutely nothing defending these jobs in Central Queensland.
Senator McGrath, a supplementary question.
Senator McGRATH (Queensland) (14:51):
What are people in Queensland saying about these proposed laws?
Senator CANAVAN (Queensland—Minister for Resources and Northern Australia) (14:51):
I welcome the fact that on this side we're here defending the interests of workers in this country. We are here defending their jobs. We're being joined by the CFMMEU. The CFMMEU share our views on this bill. The CFMMEU are joining with the LNP to defend coalmining jobs. We're hearing nothing at all from Labor members of parliament or candidates for federal parliament to defend these jobs and defend workers. It is now the LNP who are on the side of the worker these days. The LNP have the worker's back, while the Labor Party, time and time again, sell their soul to the Greens to get behind this kind of legislation which is all aimed at destroying jobs in Queensland and is not protecting the environment. That is exactly what this is about. But we will work with whomever wants to join us to defend jobs, to defend workers' interests and to make sure we have a thriving economy in Queensland.
Senator McGrath, a final supplementary question.
Senator McGRATH (Queensland) (14:52):
Is there anything that can be done to prevent this disastrous policy from going forward?
Senator CANAVAN (Queensland—Minister for Resources and Northern Australia) (14:52):
What could be done is we could have members of the so-called Labor Party stand up for labourers and stand up for workers in this country for a change. Just for a change, that would be a good thing. We here are on the side of those who do want to work in this country, of those who do want to get a job to provide for their families. We are on the side of those industries that create wealth, that create jobs, that pay the taxes and that support public servants of this nation, and our resources sector does that in spades. But if you have a Labor Party that is not willing to say that, not willing to speak about that, not willing to defend these jobs in public, it is weakening our position in this country. It is weakening support for our resources sector. What we need now is to see these job-destroying secret amendments killed off and to get back to the land of common sense about strengthening mining laws in this country while also protecting jobs.