Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 13 February 2014



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 13 February 2014

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Parliamentary Record 10


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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Hansard Office

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES Thursday 13 February 2014 3428 Mr STYLES: A point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 77, I move an extension of time for the member. Motion agreed to. Mr WESTRA van HOLTHE: Mr Deputy Speaker, thank you to the member for Sanderson. As I was saying, the member for Nhulunbuy does not want to know. The bigger picture is about global market conditions. Look at China, for example the China the member for Casuarina knows so well. China is building alumina refineries and can produce alumina far more cheaply than Australia. It is a fact that China can produce alumina far cheaper than Australia. Even if it has to import bauxite from overseas, China can still produce alumina more cheaply than Australia. Off it goes producing alumina, which puts a fair wad of alumina into the market. What does that do? If you follow the old supply and demand equation, an increase in supply will necessarily lead to a drop in price. Of course, that makes alumina production across the rest of the globe unviable, particularly in countries like Australia which has high input and high production costs. There is a good argument to suggest Rio Tintos decision was based purely on the economics of alumina. That stands to reason, does it not? Of course, members opposite do not want to know that. In all the debate I have heard in the last months, I have not heard anything from opposition members suggesting they understand the global environment for the aluminium industry. I will not say they do not understand, because there are a few smart people on the other side. They understand but, of course, that is the inconvenient truth. That is what it is all about; they want to maintain their line that it is all governments fault. Well, it is not. The offer was made and another offer was made. Ultimately, if the refinery at Gove was not stacking up in the global environment, then it was not stacking up. I heard the member for Nhulunbuy. She accused us on this side of being insensitive and not in touch with the feelings of the people of Nhulunbuy. Not true! I heard the member for Nhulunbuy say we do not care. Not true! One thing I agree with the member for Nhulunbuy about is that this is a very significant change to the Northern Territory, without a shadow of doubt. We are taking it seriously. That is why the Chief Minister has put a task force together to deal with the aftermath of Rio Tintos decision. An enormous amount of work is being done by the Northern Territory government, in consultation with the federal government, Rio Tinto and other stakeholders, to ensure we effectively soften the landing for people who live in Nhulunbuy. Work is being done, and I want those at Nhulunbuy to please hear this message from me, and not rely entirely on what comes out of the vitriolic mouth of the member for Nhulunbuy. Please do not rely just on that. A significant body of work is being done on it. Having corrected some of the record on those issues, I might wind up. There is no doubt the future for onshore oil and gas exploration in the Northern Territory is very bright, not only because of the prospectivity of the Northern Territory, but also because there is a government with policies encouraging oil and gas explorers to come and take a look. We are in competition with the other states. Capital raising is still difficult in the global environment. When companies go to China, South Korea, Taiwan or anywhere to try to raise capital finance for their operations, the due diligence which is done by potential investors is regarding where their operations are or where they propose to operate. In the Northern Territory, people realise we have a government which is pro-development, reduces red tape and facilitates allowing oil and gas exploration. It is a stable environment. The Leader of the Opposition suggested sovereign risk, which is not the case. We have a strong platform of support for the mining, oil and gas industries in the Northern Territory. In talking about sovereign risk, it has reminded me of one thing I should use as a counter of sovereign risk: when former Chief Minister, Paul Henderson, and his government decided it would not support the uranium operation or exploration at Angela Pamela. We on this side - and I said this when I was the shadow minister for Mines at the time - support process and the robustness of it. We support the fact that people have an opportunity to voice their views during the process. There are environmental and social processes to be considered. But, no, this was not the path the former Chief Minister, Paul Henderson, took. He decided his government was not going to support that type of operation in Central Australia. That is sovereign risk; it is a sudden change of policy which effects the investment environment. You do not see that on this side of the House. We have consistent policies which facilitate, and I see things changing in the policy environment with this government which are making this a better and easier place to do business. This is what we want to happen: the use it or lose it policy. We are encouraging companies to spend money by submitting robust production and work plans for