Debates Day 4 - Tuesday 30 October 2012
Parliamentary Record 1
Debates for 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Tuesday 30 October 2012 259 government is that they were not prepared to go over the hard terrain and make those hard decisions. It was not within their thinking. The essence behind developing a three-hub economy is to ensure that the Northern Territory is not dependent on just one project or industry. Two of these three hubs, food production and exports, and mining and energy, fall within my portfolios and align directly with the functions of the Department of Mines and Energy and the Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries. The Territorys major resource-based industries of primary industry, fisheries, and minerals and energy account for around 10% of the total Territory workforce and for around 8% of all businesses engaged in the Territory economy. However, ABS data shows that mining and energy remains the single biggest contributor to the Territorys economy, accounting for over 17% of economic activity from all sources, both private and public. The mining industry is the Northern Territorys largest industry and is crucial to the economic growth of the Territory and the development of our regions. Mining directly employs nearly 4000 Territorians, including many Indigenous Territorians, with many more employed in related industries. At this juncture, the member for Casuarina and the Leader of the Opposition both went to great pains to point out there was little mention of Indigenous Territorians in the Chief Ministers statement. Why do we have to continue patronising Indigenous Territorians by separating them from the rest of us? For goodness sake, are we not all Territorians? Do we have to constantly refer to Indigenous Territorians, non-Indigenous Territorians, Indigenous Australians or nonIndigenous Australians? When are we going to be politically mature enough to talk about Territorians, all Territorians, not because of the colour of their skin? When will we be politically mature enough to talk about all Australians? That goes to the crux of what this government is all about. We want to develop the Northern Territory for all Territorians regardless of whether you are black, white, come from the Philippines China, Indonesia, or anywhere else. If you are a Territorian and you live here, we are going to grow the Northern Territorys economy for the benefit of all of you, not just select groups. I turn to what I was saying before. In 2011-12 the value of mining production was approximately $2.8bn and the combined total value of the production and manufacture of minerals and energy is estimated to have been over $7bn. This industry is predicted to increase by over 10% to $8.5bn in 2012-13. However, the combination of the Territorys rich resources and emerging projects provides tremendous potential for the industry to expand, which will increase the prosperity and development of the Territory, particularly to our regional areas which is most important. This government is dedicated to working with industry to make this happen. We are unambiguously supportive of exploration and the responsible exploitation of our resources. This government has a strong commitment to openness and transparency, and will ensure there is a regulatory framework which provides an environment of certainty for the industry to operate in. For many decades the Territory economy has been supported by a number of long-term, worldclass mines such as Ranger, Gove, Groote Eylandt and McArthur River. These mines underpin the regional economies in the areas in which they operate, and the government will continue to work with their operators to ensure they have every opportunity to thrive and remain important contributors to the Northern Territory for many years to come. However, we cannot rely on these mines forever. It is of some concern that it has been many years since a major new mine commenced operation in the Territory. Clearly, the Territory needs a pipeline of new projects coming in to production in order to establish the next generation of mines for the Territory. With this in mind, it is pleasing to note many potential mining projects are at an advanced stage across the Territory. This includes five proposed new mining projects currently undergoing environmental assessment, and six that have completed environmental assessment and are in the mining approvals process. Many of these are large, potentially long-term mining projects such as the proposed iron ore projects of the Roper River area which have potential to be in production within the next year. I pick up on the point made by the member for Casuarina earlier about Meijin and the sudden withdrawal of its support for Western Desert Resources. I have taken some advice on this and understand the project will go ahead nonetheless and moves will be made by me, as the minister, and the department, to better understand the reasons behind this change of thinking. However, at the end of the day, decisions by investment companies such as Meijin will be theirs to make based on the circumstances that exist for them at the time. Of course, if there are ways we can assist or provide information, we will endeavour to do that.
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