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Nov 022012

The following is a speech by Steve Minnikin MP in Queensland Parliament on November 1 2012.

(8.30 pm): I rise in this chamber to speak in support of the Surat Basin Rail (Infrastructure Development and Management) Bill 2012. I applaud the Deputy Premier for bringing this vital bill to the House. It is important to have a framework that will provide for coal rail infrastructure in this great state of Queensland.

The objective of the bill is to create a specific legislative framework for the development and management of the Surat Basin Rail—SBR—which will complement existing statutory arrangements for rail infrastructure in Queensland and protect the state’s interests under the concession agreements that will govern the construction and long-term operation of the SBR. As coal is one of our largest export products, it is critical that we support a project that will increase jobs and expand the coalmining industry, which also has flow-on economic effects to complementary industries. If we are serious about supporting industries in Queensland, this bill needs to be supported as it makes it clear that Queensland is a place for heavy industry and is open to business—indeed, it is a real can-do state.

It is essential to support infrastructure such as the Surat Basin Rail project, as it ensures that the industry in Queensland can keep up with the demands that exist from relevant stakeholders. We need to support mineral resource growth by supporting the creation and expansion of infrastructure in Queensland to make sure that we continue to prosper as a state and make it economically viable for resource industries to invest. Indeed, the Fraser Institute Annual survey of mining companies for 2011/ 2012 showed just how much as a state we have slipped in terms of economic competitiveness and attractiveness for investment in the resources industry. How many ALP members opposite would have even read or heard of the Fraser Institute report?

Developing certainty with the legal and regulatory frameworks that this bill presents will ensure industry stakeholders and landowners know the lie of the land when it comes to the future development of this project. That is of paramount importance to the industry. It is important that the Newman government makes it clear that we are willing to work with all stakeholders that are affected by this infrastructure to ensure we get the best outcome for all involved. Unlike the seven members of the ALP opposite, the Newman government really wants to engage with business in order to drive our vital export markets and ensure that we remain competitive.

As a former businessman and property developer, I wholeheartedly support this bill as I understand the need to get behind transportation infrastructure as it means growth for the immediate area, growth for the region and, indeed, growth for the state as a whole. Ultimately, the flow-on effects will help my own electorate of Chatsworth in the years to come. Queensland needs to embrace growth in its regional areas to ensure we do not get left behind and we can continue our fiscal repair process, to fix up the utter economic mess we inherited from the previous inept Labor government. It is important that we make it attractive for the coal industry to grow in Queensland. It means more job opportunities for Queenslanders and, in turn, it means great things for the Queensland economy.

The Surat Basin Rail (Infrastructure Development and Management) Bill 2012 makes it clear that the Newman government is willing to listen to the concerns of affected landowners—unlike the previous Labor government that seemed not to want to work with anyone. Unlike those opposite, we need to make sure landowners and industry can work together. That can be facilitated only by a state government that is willing to listen to all key stakeholders.

This bill is vitally important to the growth of jobs and our state economy overall, as it ensures there is a greater chance of potential economic gain for the region in the Surat Basin Rail project area. I am very pleased to support this bill, as I believe that making it clearer and easier for industry to build infrastructure in Queensland will ensure we have a future in the resources industry, which was one of our four key pillars that we took to the last election.

We need to be upfront with the application process to ensure projects are not delayed, thereby stalling the economy. The Newman government is committed to supporting infrastructure to make sure we have a strong future with the resources industry and that we provide a stable framework that is clear to all stakeholders. Business at all levels values certainty above all else. The fundamental difference between the Newman government and the seven opposition members across from me is that we know that, if we wish to truly prosper and grow as a state, creating infrastructure is the only way forward for Queensland business.

The true test of our legacy as a government will be the efficacy of the decisions that we make here in this House today for future generations of Queenslanders long after our time in this chamber has ended. I commend the Deputy Premier for bringing this important bill to the House. I thoroughly commend the Surat Basin Rail (Infrastructure Development and Management) Bill.

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