OPINION: Where would Queensland be without the resources sector?

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It’s a question often asked but new figures released last month in the QRC’s Economic Contribution Report make it even more pertinent.

I was extremely proud in my final address to the QRC’s biggest annual event as Chief Executive to confirm that the resources sector produced a record contribution to Queensland in the 2022/23 financial year of $116.8 billion – a $22 billion increase on the previous year.

Our sector also supports the jobs of more than 530,000 Queenslanders.

Coal alone supported 372,000 jobs, 41,455 directly, and generated $83.7 billion for the Queensland economy.

Resources companies paid over $18 billion in state royalties, including an incredible $15.3 billion from coal producers after the Queensland Government’s decision to impose the world’s highest coal royalty taxes.

At a national level, the Australian Taxation Office released its latest figures revealing the resources and energy sector paid more corporate tax in the 2021/22 financial year than all other industries combined.

It’s worth noting that eight of the top 20 corporate taxpayers are resources companies with operations in Queensland.

No other industry makes such a significant contribution to Queensland’s economic prosperity and the numbers above suggest the resources sector should be well positioned to continue providing the annual ‘nest egg’ that will support our great state long into the future.

It would be, but for one other significant number – Queensland now has the world’s highest coal royalty tax rates which is deterring investment in new projects.

The uncertainty over the sudden decision to raise royalty taxes has led to one of the world’s biggest mining companies BHP to announce it won’t be making any new investments in Queensland, and we know other companies have similar strong concerns.

These concerns are echoed in the Queensland Exploration Council’s annual survey, which reveals a sharp rise in negative industry sentiment. Topping the list of concerns are State and Federal Government policies, and the impact of the new, higher royalties on investor confidence.

Ian receiving Life Membership from outgoing President Brent Gunther and Federal Shadow Resources Minister, Senator Susan McDonald.

We need a strong exploration sector to lay the foundation for a successful resources sector and we need the Queensland Government to start listening to the warnings from industry about the threat the royalty tax increase is causing to future investment.

Instead, the coal industry is ignored by the State Government despite its importance to Queensland. It may surprise regional Queenslanders to know the Premier is yet to visit a coal mine in this term of office to acknowledge the hard work of the men and women in the industry. It is clear that if the government doesn’t support the resources sector, it doesn’t support its 372,000 workers.

Without new investment, Queensland won’t attract the new resources projects needed to provide the jobs and economic benefits we currently enjoy as a result of investment decisions made years or decades ago.

It’s why the QRC has released new advertisements as part of our public awareness campaign about the royalty tax. We want to warn Queenslanders of the threat posed to the annual nest egg the resources sector provides to Queensland. The message is that if you hurt Queensland resources, you hurt Queensland’s future.

As this is my final article for Coalface as QRC Chief Executive, I’d like to finish on a positive note.

Our educational arm, the QMEA, just reached an important milestone partnering with its 100th school to deliver its STEM-based workshops and programs.

Nothing has given me more satisfaction in my long connection to the industry than meeting a first-year apprentice or university graduate just starting out on a career in the resources sector, and the QMEA is a playing an important role getting more young people on that path.

I was also very honoured to be presented with QRC Life Membership recently for services to the resources industry at our annual lunch.

I have greatly enjoyed representing the industry during my seven years at QRC and 14 years in Federal Parliament, including as Resources Minister and Shadow Minister.

This industry is made up of can-do people who make a difference and provide Australia with a strong economic base and high standard of living.

I am proud to have been part of its success and wish you all well for the years ahead.

Ian Macfarlane

Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive

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