Minister for Resources Madeleine King's address to CEDA's 2024 State of the Nation

I'd like to start by acknowledging the traditional custodians in the land of which we are gathered, the Ngunnawal people and pay my respects to their elders past, present, and emerging.

I'd like to thank the Chief Executive of CEDA, Melinda Cilento, and everyone involved in organising and hosting this event here in the Parliament, I look forward to the panel discussion a bit later on. And thanks to CEDA for the opportunity to speak to you today.

One of the great Shakespearean themes is the difference between what seems to be happening on the surface and what is really going on beneath it.

What lies on the surface might appear to show one thing, but it is only when we take a deeper look that we can really know what's going on.

And that's a bit like this place

The Australian resources industry supports this nation by looking beneath the physical surface of the Earth to tap into the riches that lie below.

Instinct and luck have had a part in unearthing some underground mineral deposits, but for the most part it has been science and technology and hard work based on reason and experience that has resulted in our largest economy-making discoveries.

Where I come from in WA, lots of people and families have had long and proud connections with the mining sector.

Go to Perth airport at 5:00 AM on a Tuesday or Monday morning and you'll see the Army of workers in hi-vis and steel cap boots waiting for a flight to Karratha or Paraburdoo to begin the swing at a mine site from a processing plant or an offshore rig.

For these workers, the resources industry is a source of highly skilled and well-paid work.

But there are many Australians that have no connection to the resources operations of WA or Queensland or in the Hunter Valley.

They may have never been to a mine site and they haven't been able to see how sophisticated and innovative mining is.

And as a result, many may not understand how their lives have benefited from the resources industry and how much our modern lives depend upon it.

And indeed, how modern and technologically advanced modern mining is.

I'd personally like to see more Members of Parliament and members of the media visit resources projects to see them first hand and on that point I should thank the Mineral Councils of Australia and the Chamber of Minerals and Energy in WA for organising visits to resource projects for MP's and senators.

I think it's really unfortunate that such visits are subject to political and activist attack from some who seem to think that MPs can simply rock up to the front gate and knock on a boom gate and then get entry to a mine site.

Never mind the remote location or the safety concerns or even the quarantine requirements to protect the environment.

When it comes to learning more about the industry and the workers in it, it doesn't matter where an elected representative stands on the resources sector of the use and extraction of fossil fuels.

After all, we know we don't all agree on everything.

What remains important is that people shouldn't be demonised for visiting and seeking to learn about and indeed questioning the sector that is the backbone of the economy.

The resources industry laid the foundation of our nation's prosperity, provides the building blocks of our modern economy.

It generates economic activity in the regions, and it will continue to deliver year after year.

It did so through the COVID-19 pandemic, the closure of WA state borders kept our nation's mineral and gas exports flowing and directly saved the economy from collapse.

Royalties from mining go to the building of roads and hospitals.

The revenue Australia earns from the resources industry contributes to paying for our Defence Force.

Australia's resources play a role, a key role in our alliances, in our relationships with the rest of the world.

Our resources are vital to the energy security of nations such as India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, China, Singapore and Vietnam.

And crucially, our resources will be of central importance in the energy transition taking place in this nation and the economies of our trading partners.

The government's plan for a Future Made in Australia will maximise the economic and industrial benefits of the resources sector.

It will secure Australia's place in a changing global economic and strategic landscape.

Through a Future Made in Australia we are investing in the skills industries and manufacturing that will be vital to our net zero future.

The Future Made in Australia plan puts the resources industry at the heart of the Albanese government's plan to grow the economy, to create jobs and to secure our future.

This was the most significant budget for the resources sector in a generation and that's because this government backs the resources sector.

We can't make a future for this nation without the resources industry, but to support that sector, we need to know first what lies beneath the surface.

We need to know what our great country is made of, and that's why the government has locked in generational funding for Geoscience Australia.

We are providing $3.4 billion to Geoscience Australia through the Resourcing Australia's Prosperity programme to help find more of those economy-making discoveries to support future generations of Australians.

This is an investment in science so that we can build a better future.

This is a very important nation-building commitment that will drive growth in the resources sector through future decades of pre competitive data collection.

And investment in science to find out what is beneath our feet so that we can build our future.

The programme will focus on critical minerals, strategic materials and groundwater, naturally occurring hydrogen or potential sites for hydrogen storage.

Under this plan, we will progressively map the entire continent and share that data with the Community for free as public science so explorers can prioritise where they look deeper for the minerals we need to keep our economy humming.

And there was more in the budget, one of the most significant measures announced was a 10 per cent production tax credit worth a $17.6 billion over 14 years for all critical minerals to drive critical minerals processing in this country.

These tax credits will drive greater capital investment and provide an incentive for domestic processing for future projects.

They will only be paid when producers turn a profit. This is no handout.

It provides incentives for investment and miners will be investing their own hard-earned money before they get access to a tax credit.

A few weeks ago, I would have said that Angus Taylor's opposition to the critical minerals production tax incentive was one of the most tin-eared and bizarre policy decisions of any party in recent memory.

And now I find myself talking about the possibility of a nuclear reactor in Collie, to quote Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast”, especially in this space.

In addition to our tax credits and generational support for pre competitive data, the government will work with states and territories to look at developing common user minerals processing hubs.

Now that might sound like a small thing, but targeted and smart government support for common user infrastructure in places like Kalgoorlie or indeed Gladstone will cut costs for producers, increased profits and create jobs.

They are all smart measures designed to play to this country's strengths and I want to thank both the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, and Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, for supporting and backing these important initiatives.

Both the Prime Minister of this country and the Treasurer of this country understand the important role our resources sector plays in supporting our economy and in building these industries of the future.

Now I can hear some of you thinking perhaps that these investments in the science of geology, production, tax credits for the resources industry, scoping investments in road and rail are all things that you might have seen the Liberal Party think to support and that might be back in the day.

But it's certainly not the case now.

I know we hope that events like CEDA, we could depoliticize subjects like resources or the development of the critical minerals industry, but we simply cannot do that with the outrageous haste in which the Dutton opposition has announced it will oppose the production tax credits for critical minerals and will instead seek to nationalise The national power grid and build a national network of state-owned nuclear reactors.

Peter Dutton has complained that production tax credits is welfare for billionaires, but a state-owned network of uncosted nuclear reactors is somehow economically rational.

This is an alternate universe in which we're existing.

It is important when we talk about growth in the future of the resources sector that we are clear about the choices for Australia before Australians are before Australian industry.

A sensible, well planned policy to incentivise critical minerals and processing, or an uncosted nuclear industry with so many known unknowns that are simply don't know where to start.

And mark my words, the coalition will seek to claim its savings from opposing our critical minerals incentive scheme to fund this nuclear fantasy.

The business community gets that this is a completely bonkers policy.

Production tax credits, on the other hand, has the full support of the business community and I thank them for it.

There is the strong support from the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA, Wesfarmers, Lynas Rare Earths, Liontown Australian Vanadium and Mineral resources, just to name a few.

As I've often said, the road to net zero runs through the resources sector.

Australia's critical minerals and rare earths are key to building renewable technologies such as solar panels, batteries and wind farms, as well as defence and medical technologies.

And our ambition through the Future Made in Australia policy is to do just that, mine, process and make more here in Australia.

I know that members of CEDA have a good understanding of the central importance of resources to Australia's economy and our standard of living.

But it is important that groups like CEDA keep talking widely about the industry and its importance to our economy and the energy transition.

Because resources need to be supported in the face of people who do not understand or do not want to understand.

As part of the Future Made in Australia, want to ensure that we do more of the refining and processing our value commodities here where they are found and our production tax credits and investment in geoscience will help make this a reality.

And we've not come to this plan in the last minute.

This government has long understood that the answers to great economic challenges of our time would be underwritten by our world leading resources industry.

We've been working closely with our international partners to develop our critical minerals and rare earth industries.

We have partnerships with Japan, with Korea, the US, Canada, India, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the European Union.

We've been working hard to get the world to understand and recognise the importance of environmental, social and governance standards in the pricing of minerals.

And I would argue there's a certain hypocrisy in some countries racing to build more wind turbines, batteries and solar panels with the aim of bettering our world if the minerals used to build those things are sourced from projects with such low ESG standards.

So we are accelerating trade efforts to realise the market premium of these high ESG standards in critical minerals in Australia.

And I can say on that point I very much like to thank the work of our ambassador to the US, Kevin Rudd, for his advocacy in this area.

Supply chains from critical minerals and rare earth elements face numerous risks, including higher market concentration.

Production is concentrated in a small number of countries outside Australia, making their supply vulnerable to trade disruption.

Australia wants to help diversify supply chains and both reduce global reliance on minerals produced with lower ESG credentials and withstand geopolitical disruption.

Reaching net zero will require more mining, not less.

It will mean more exploration and more investment.

It might seem contradictory to some, but reason tells us otherwise.

Australia's critical minerals will be central to reaching net zero, and we want to do more than just mine and export them.

That is why the government has placed the resources industry at the heart of its economic policy making.

That is why this government is supporting our all-important resources industry because we understand that the resources industry is crucial to creating jobs and wealth for future generations of Australians.

Thank you all very much.