Jun 2, 2010

Question without notice – Mining infrastructure

Ms JACKSON (2:35 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. How is the government supporting investment and infrastructure in the Pilbara and across Australia?

Mr Hockey interjecting—

Mr Tanner —Mr Speaker—

The SPEAKER —Order! If I have been approached by the minister for finance because an unparliamentary remark has been made by the member for North Sydney, the member for North Sydney will withdraw.

Mr Hockey —I withdraw.

The SPEAKER —I think everybody should calm down a little. The member for Hasluck has asked her question. The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government has the call.

Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government) —I thank the member for Hasluck for her question and for her ongoing interest in the economic future particularly of the west. Today I granted major project facilitation status to the West Pilbara iron ore project. This recognises its economic significance to Australia and it shows that the government is getting on with the job of supporting investment so that Australia can take full advantage of the global recovery. This is a $4 billion project which will commercialise 500 million tonnes of iron ore. It will generate some $2 billion every year in export revenue and create 4,000 jobs during construction. I spoke with the project manager yesterday, who confirmed that, with today’s announcement, they are on track to start construction on this iron ore project next year, with production to begin in 2013. This is good news for the Pilbara and it is good news for the nation.

As we all know, a project of this scale needs infrastructure. In this case, the West Pilbara iron ore project will construct a 275-kilometre heavy haulage railway and a new deep-water port at Anketell Point, both with opportunities for third-party access. This is an issue right across the country. We need not just private sector investment in infrastructure; we also need to have a capacity to leverage with public investment in infrastructure. Only this morning, the member for Maranoa was calling for an urgent upgrade of the Landsborough Highway to cope with the pressure from the Galilee Basin coal projects. The Rudd government’s tax reform plan will support more sustainable growth across the economy by helping to build infrastructure capacity around Australia as resource projects come on line. That is why the Rudd government wants to establish the infrastructure fund as part of its proposed resource super profits tax. We stand for a stronger economy. We recognise that even in areas where there has been a substantial mining boom—such as Port Hedland or Karratha or Newman—you see, in spite of the extraordinary wealth that is being generated, a lack of infrastructure, whether it be export based infrastructure restricting our capacity for growth, or whether it be social infrastructure, such as education, health and childcare facilities. And, frankly, I am surprised that the announcement of a project such as this, with major project facilitation by the federal government, is not welcomed by all in this parliament. I assure the parliament it has been welcomed by the company concerned.