By HARRY CLARKE
A STREAM of ministerial press releases pledging government support for the mining sector were yesterday sent out at the same time the industry’s peak lobby group was using its annual conference – for a second consecutive year – to slam the government’s controversial coal royalty rises.
The Queensland Resources Council’s (QRC) gathering at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre had stark similarities to the 2022 event; Palaszczuk Government MPs were notably absent and QRC chief executive Ian MacFarlane protested vehemently against “the world’s highest royalty taxes”.
Queensland treasurer Cameron Dick had yesterday morning released a statement acknowledging the QRC conference and defending last financial year’s tiered increase to coal taxes, which are now up to 40 percent per tonne and raising more than $18 billion in annual royalties.
“I see the resources lobby today is talking about their contribution to the Queensland economy,” Dick said,
“There’s a few things they say that I don’t agree with, but on one thing they are right: the resources owned by the people of Queensland are delivering billions more in progressive coal royalties, but all that would disappear under David Crisafulli.
“And the LNP want to hand those royalties back to the coal lobby.”
Dick’s comments were followed by the release of several media statements which highlighted coal jobs creation at Anglo American’s Lake Lindsay Mine, a new critical minerals facility at Townsville and $21 million in grants for new gas exploration in the Bowen and Galilee basins.
This year’s QRC’s annual conference was in part Macfarlane’s swan song – the QRC boss of four years and former Grains Council of Australia president, LNP federal resources minister and National Farmers Federation lobbyist will retire at the end of this year.
After thanking QRC’s staff and his family’s support during his time in the top role, Macfarlane quipped “and to the Palaszczuk Government, thanks for nothing”.
“Instead of encouraging the sector to grow, each year the resources sector is being burdened with more taxes and charges, more regulation, slower approval processes and less public support of our industry,” MacFarlane said.
“The Premier hasn’t even visited a coal mine in this term of government.
“All this to a sector that is the backbone of the Queensland economy in both economic and jobs terms. We’ve seen an incredible increase in that contribution across the sector in every part and every key indicator.”
QRC figures say the Queensland mining industry made a total contribution of $116.8 billion to the state’s economy, paying $7.4 billion in wages for 61,400 direct jobs and spending $32.9 billion across 15,900 Queensland-based business.
The conference keynote address was delivered by Queensland senator and shadow resources minister Susan McDonald, who highlighted opportunities presented by the “new frontier” of critical minerals mining.
“While recognising Australia’s critical minerals will be in demand for low emission technologies, their importance extends far beyond a single focus, playing a vital role in industries such as defence, aerospace, transport, automotive, medical and telecommunications, as well as advance manufacturing,” McDonald said.
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“Queensland is blessed with many of these strategic minerals that will become ever more necessary in coming years, however we should not abandon our traditional resources as well to capitalise on the critical minerals boom, because coal is still critical to our current energy production.”
A QRC spokesperson said the replacement for MacFarlane, described by QRC president Brent Gunther as a primary industries advocate who “leads from the front”, would be announced “imminently”.