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Labor Resources Minister Madeleine King turns to Liberal premiers for critical minerals industry inspiration

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Katina Curtis
The Nightly
Madeleine King has turned to Liberal luminaries for inspiration in turning critical minerals into the nation’s next prosperous resources industry.
Madeleine King has turned to Liberal luminaries for inspiration in turning critical minerals into the nation’s next prosperous resources industry. Credit: Ross Swanborough/The West Australian

Madeleine King has turned to Liberal luminaries for inspiration in turning critical minerals into the nation’s next prosperous resources industry.

The Labor Resources Minister will praise the “extraordinary vision and foresight” of Liberal premiers David Brand and Charles Court in creating the conditions needed for the iron ore and gas industries to become the nation-building giants they are today.

The current Federal Government is trying to do the same for critical minerals, she will tell The West Australian’s Leadership Matters event on Tuesday.

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That includes setting up production tax credits for processed critical minerals and green hydrogen, potentially worth billions of dollars if companies are successful, along with the $566 million plan for Geoscience Australia to map resources deposits all over the country.

The Government is also examining how to help the States set up common user infrastructure — such as testing facilities, logistics corridors and multi-user freight terminals — to cut costs and boost productivity for new facilities.

“This kind of thinking on shared infrastructure is exactly how Brand and Court approached the development of our iron ore industry in the 1960s,” Ms King will say.

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

“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.

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

Ms King says the global demand for critical minerals as the world transitions to net zero means that WA is one of the best-positioned places, likening the industry’s potential to the way iron ore transformed the State from “a remote and sleepy backwater” to one with “a modern, bustling city of more than two million people”.

While drawing on the record of the Liberal icons, the minister lashes out at Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s move to oppose the production tax credits.

The Coalition was quick to label the policy “welfare for billionaires” and pledge that it would instead speed up approvals and cut power prices to help industry.

Ms King will say this abandons the core Liberals values of backing wealth creators and employers.

“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?”

She will also accuses them of ignoring the national security implications of failing to get the industry growing and of seeing the resources sector as homogeneous, with every commodity sold in bulk and produced by massive multinational miners, like coal or iron ore.

“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,” she will say.

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

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