Address to the Seven West Media Leadership Breakfast, Perth


Thank you, Professor Harlene Hayne for your kind introduction.

I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land we are meeting on here in Perth, the Whadjuk Nyoongar people, and pay my respects to their elders, past and present.

I extend that respect to all First Nations peoples present.

I have attended many of these Leadership Matters breakfasts, and enjoyed hearing from many distinguished speakers, so I was a little overwhelmed but very pleased when Seven West Media invited me to participate in this excellent series. 

Putting resources at the centre of a Future Made in Australia

It is now just over two years since I was sworn in as Australia’s Minister for Resources and Northern Australia on 1 June 2022. 

In that time, the Albanese Government has achieved an immense amount for the resources industry. 

This work has had real benefits for Western Australia. 

There is of course the very significant Critical Mineral Production Tax Incentive, which I will speak about more in a moment. 

We have produced a Critical Minerals Strategy – providing a genuine blueprint for how we can develop this important industry by recognising how critical minerals and rare earths are pivotal to the global drive to net zero and essential for our national security. 

We have expanded both the Critical Minerals Facility and the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility by $2 billion each and earmarked $500 million from the NAIF for critical minerals. 

After years of talk, slogans and little action from the Coalition, we have provided genuine policy for the nation’s gas market with our Future Gas Strategy. 

A gas strategy that is aligned with this government’s policy to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

And it aligns with global policies to decarbonize, as the world has expressed in the Paris Agreement. I am happy to be very clear on our commitment to the Paris Agreement, particularly as the Leader of the Opposition is not.

Australia’s continuing success and security is dependent on our state continuing to produce and export iron ore, LNG, and critical minerals.

Australians understand that our resources industry is the foundation on which our national prosperity is built.

Just as they understand that without critical minerals – and gas to process them and keep the lights on – our transition to renewables will take longer and will be more expensive.

I often say that road to net zero runs through Australia’s resources sector.

But we might also say that the entire world’s path to net zero starts here in WA.  

After the Second World War, Australia was still largely reliant on agriculture to support its economy.

Western Australia was a remote and sleepy backwater. 

The development of Western Australia, and therefore the nation, turned a corner when then Liberal Premier Sir David Brand and his deputy Sir Charles Court realised the immense opportunities of exporting WA’s iron ore to Asia. 

With determined leadership and great effort, they convinced Prime Minister Robert Menzies to lift the ban on exporting iron ore to Japan. 

The subsequent opening of Western Australia’s iron ore trade would transform the nation. 

This new trade would build new towns in WA, while our iron ore would build whole cities across our region. 

It would change the face of our city. 

It would build trading relationships that would eventually lead to us to create one of the world’s most successful LNG industries. 

That LNG industry now powers cities, industries and homes across Asia. 

Our LNG is also helping to displace more carbon intensive fuels so the industrial giants of north Asia can also reduce their carbon emissions. 

Both the iron ore and LNG industries have been job creators over decades, providing opportunities for thousands of Western Australians but also for many from the east. 

These industries have seen prosperity flow to our suburbs, and when times have been tough – in the Global Financial Crisis, and the Covid pandemic – it was the workers and companies of the resources sector that saved our national economy.

Perth today is a modern, bustling city of more than two million people. 

Western Australia is at the heart of the operations of some of the world’s great businesses and trading houses. 

Rio Tinto - a global company - headquartered in London - owes about 80% of its profits to iron ore from the Pilbara. 

And last year BHP marked its 3 billionth tonne of iron ore shipped to China from the Pilbara.

While Japan’s INPEX employs more staff in Perth than it does Tokyo. 

Three great job creating companies, and three strong arguments for them to consider making their headquarters in the state from which their success is derived …

None of this great story happened by itself. 

Brand and Court recognised that to create a new industry, Government support was critical to get projects off the ground. 

The Hammersley Range Agreement Act of 1963 – the first of the first big historic State Agreements that would shape our modern resources industry – granted mining leases, exemption from bonds, peppercorn rental agreements and zoning exemptions as well as royalty and stamp duty concessions and infrastructure investment. 

This was extraordinary vision and foresight from Brand and Court. 

They understood that to build wealth and to create jobs for generations of Australians, government needed to provide incentives to crowd in investment and to build markets.  

This was leadership. Leadership that mattered and still does.

The courage to pursue a bold vision and reimagine a better future for our state and for our nation.

One might even say they were creating a future made in Western Australia. 

Last month’s Budget handed down by Treasurer Jim Chalmers was a historically significant Budget for the future of our economy. 

The central pillar of the budget is the Future Made in Australia plan. 

The Budget is a blueprint to attract investment, build new industries and create jobs. 

The 2024 Budget was the most significant Federal Budget for the resources sector in a generation.

Indeed, the resources industry is the bedrock of the Future Made in Australia plan. 

We can’t make a future for this nation without the resources industry. 

The world can’t build the things it needs to reduce emissions, create wealth and invent new technologies without the basic building blocks provided by our resources industry. 

One of the most significant measures announced as part of the Budget was a ten per cent production tax credit worth$17.6 billion over 14 years for all critical minerals to build processing capacity in Australia. 

That is $17.6 billion to grow a future industry. 

A future industry just like Brand and Court dreamt of - and made real - for the iron ore industry over 60 years ago. 

This commitment will help realise the full value of our natural resources to maximise benefits for our nation.

Another industry to hedge against future challenges. 

Another industry to create jobs and wealth for our families. 

I am very proud of this measure. 

In opposition, first as a backbencher and then as shadow minister for resources, I argued that developing our critical minerals industry should be a national mission. 

So in the two years since becoming your Resources Minister I have worked with that mind - developing the Critical Minerals Strategy, then working will colleagues and industry to secure the Critical Minerals Production Incentive. 

This incentive is just one step in realising that national mission. 

But there is much more to do. 

It took many months of patient work with industry to design. 

I would like to pay tribute to the work of the Treasurer and to the Prime Minister in understanding the significance of this measure to powering our nation’s economy.  

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Treasurer Jim Chalmers know how important our resources industry is to this country. 

This plan did not come out of nowhere. 

It was not dreamt up overnight.

It was the result of many months of hard policy work and consultation.

As well as listening to industry, we have been working with international partners to design measures to grow our critical minerals and rare earths industries to protect supply chains. 

In October last year I had the honour of joining the Prime Minister on his state visit to Washington where we met with President Joe Biden and members of his cabinet.

At those meetings, and at follow up meetings in the US again in March this year, the Biden administration urged Australia to protect and grow its critical minerals and rare earths industries. 

These production tax incentives do exactly that. 

Production tax credits are a proven mechanism for rewarding risk-takers establishing new industries.

The credits will only be able to be claimed for materials processed in Australia. 

We want to make this incentive as effective as possible.

The production tax credits rewards success.

It is not about picking winners but making our downstream processing facilities globally competitive and diversifying global supply chains.

We will be building our national capacity and securing our sovereignty. 

We will support investment in the long-term and provide certainty to grow an industry for future generations. 

Common user infrastructure 

But our support does not end here. 

I know that shared and common user infrastructure is a very important component to developing any industry and so we are investigating how we best help States and Territories achieve their ambitions. 

Sharing infrastructure will cut costs, boost productivity and profits and create jobs. 

Common user facilities could include things such as testing facilities, logistics corridors or even multi-user freight terminals to help reduce operational costs.

This kind of thinking on shared infrastructure is exactly how Brand and Court approached the development of our iron ore industry in the 1960s. 

Resourcing Australia’s Prosperity 

Another important Budget measure to support our resources industry is the $3.4 billion Resourcing Australia’s Prosperity program.

This is big. 

This investment will enable Geoscience Australia to map the entire continent to find deposits of minerals and resources needed to provide wealth, create jobs and feed industry. 

This is an investment in science. 

Because we need to know what we are made of to know what we can make.

Because we need to support our explorers to find those economy-making discoveries for the future. 

Geoscience Australia estimates that about 80 per cent of our continent is underexplored. 

So the potential is massive. 

Resourcing Australia’s Prosperity shows a commitment to geoscience over decades which I personally hope will drive more young people to consider a future in geological discovery.

There won’t be any ribbon cutting events for this policy. 

There won’t be many media releases. 

But nevertheless, it will remain excellent policy for the long term to resource our future prosperity.

Together, the Production Tax Credits for critical minerals and Resourcing Australia’s Prosperity measures are worth more than $20 billion.

That is why this is the most significant Budget for the resources sector in a generation. 

It shows the depth of support and understanding this Government has of the resources sector and the important place it has in our economy. 

These measures are of a kind that Brand and Court would recognise and support. 

Unfortunately, their colleagues in the modern day Liberal Party do not. 

Quite the opposite.

They have labelled these measures welfare for billionaires.

Would Peter Dutton and Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor seriously argue that those royalty and stamp duty concessions Brand and Court gave to iron ore companies back in the 1960s were welfare? 

The federal Liberals have abandoned their core values of backing wealth creators and employers. 

They are at odds with their colleagues in WA.  

Both State Opposition leader Shane Love and WA Liberal Leader Libby Mettam know how important these measures are for WA, and that to stand against them is anti-WA.

In their rush to score political points, the Federal Opposition have ignored the national security implications of their recklessness. 

Let there be no doubt, supporting our critical minerals and rare earths industry is a matter of national security. 

We can’t make the solar panels, wind turbines and batteries we need to reach net zero without these resources.

But critical minerals and rare earths are also essential in modern defence applications.

They are prevalent in F-35 jets, submarines, weapons guidance systems and drone technology. 

Supporting our critical minerals and rare earths industry is an essential step in Australia taking responsibility to lead on critical minerals globally. 

The Australian Government is stepping up while the Opposition is stepping back.

Playing politics - as they are - on an important issue of sovereignty is misplaced and reckless. 

The leadership of the Federal Liberal party simply don’t understand the challenges of international markets and supply chains that critical minerals and rare earths have to work in.

They make the mistake of so many - thinking that the resources sector is homogenous. 

That all commodities are like iron ore or coal, sold in bulk and produced by massive multinationals, or that commodities are sold into stable, transparent markets.

Well they are not. 

Peter Dutton and Angus Taylor simply do not get it. I genuinely did not expect the Federal Liberal leadership to be so shortsighted. And it goes to show that the ignorance of the resources sector, and the emerging critical minerals and rare earths industry, goes further than I knew.

Leadership in WA

Leadership Matters. 

Leadership requires the courage to do what is best for the country.

Leadership requires a plan for the future. 

Leadership requires more than just chasing an easy headline or taking a position for the sake of a quick political point.

As the Prime Minister said when launching the Future Made in Australia plan:

This country has unlimited potential.

But we do not have unlimited time. 

If we don’t act to shape the future, the future will shape us.  

By backing WA’s resources industry we are creating a better future for this state and for the entire country

Western Australians get that. 

This Government gets that. 

Thank you.