2019 AMEC Conference Speech

06 June 2019





Address to 2019 Association of Mining and Exploration Companies Conference

I thank Dr Richard Walley OAM for his welcome to country, and I too would like to pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging of the Whudjak people of the great Noongar nation of south western Australia.

I also acknowledge the Honourable Bill Johnston MLA, WA Minister for Mines & Petroleum; Energy; Industrial Relations.

Bill and the whole Western Australian Government are doing a wonderful job promoting and working with industry to get the most out of the Mining and Exploration sector and in promoting this vital sector in this great State.

I would also like to acknowledging Warren Pearce, Chief Executive Officer, Association of Mining and Exploration Companies.

As Im sure Minister Johnston would agree: The Labor Party is pro mining.

We are pro resources and resource development.

And we are certainly pro exploration.

Our party is built around working men and women, and particularly in WA, mining and resource development is a way of life for many of our members and supporters, as well as many others.

And we know, theres no mining, no resource production, without exploration.

The Labor Party has a rich pedigree when it comes to advocating for this great industry on the national stage, with Senator the Hon Peter Walsh and later, Hon Gary Gray MP, both serving as Federal Resource Ministers from WA.

Alas, despite our strong positive history, we have struggled to convey this recently our message got somewhat muddled.

Now, some of you might be wondering, whos this young upstart theyve made Labors Shadow Minister for WA Resources?

Aside from one of WAs first mines being just metres outside my electorate yes, there was a tin mine in Armadale - prior to politics, I worked in commercial litigation, with a focus on regulatory matters, working with many of our largest, and some of our smaller players in the resources sector a number of you are my former clients.

I understand the benefits of a strong Resources Industry and how that flows through our entire economy and community Ive been a beneficiary.

So just as the theme of this years convention is Next Generation Mining I am the next generation of Labor, and hopefully not too far off, Government, leaders for mining.

This is an industry that drives the Western Australian Economy, indeed it drives a large part of the overall Australian economy.

My community in Perths south-east is a beneficiary too though some no longer. I want to fix that.

Unfortunately, in WA our unemployment rate is still high; we must create more jobs and up-skill individuals so they can receive the best opportunities to get into the industry.

And its a great industry to work in, just ask my brother, who works FIFO at Jimblebar in Newman.

In 2017-18, there was $2 billion spent in exploration in Australia but we know that Greenfield exploration has declined.

There hasnt been a big Tier 1 discovery in over a decade.

At the last election, we pledged $23 million towards The Australian Future Mines Centre to be based in WA, which would help boost innovation in the mining and exploration sector, and hopefully have led to more discoveries.

But the people of Australia did not elect us, and this message was most forcibly delivered in Western Australia and Queensland, the great mining states.

That commitment was part of fulfilling the promise of Resources 2030.

A promise that we still believe in.

Now though is a time for reflection for Labor.

And we know we need to do better.

We are here to listen.

I want to meet with as many members of the Exploration, Mining and Oil & Gas industries and find out what needs improving, and what needs to be left alone.

To all of you in this room, please get in touch with me. Im keen to speak with as many of you as I can and learn directly what needs to be done to continue to strengthen the industry.

This Convention is exploring how we can continue to innovate in how the sector works, educate our future workforce and better engage with the wider community, so Australia can continue to be at the forefront of exploration and mining well into the future.

In my new role as Shadow Minister for Defence Industry as well, Im also keen to explore ways in which developments in your sector can parlay into our defence sector too.

And the future looks bright, not only are we diversifying our resources industry with lithium and other emerging communities coming on board, together with more traditional metals being extracted here finding a new lease of life, in the renewable energy and technology sectors, but Im so impressed to see that students from Kent Street Senior High Schools CoRE industry learning Program will be showcased a bit later.

Over the last few years as a Federal MP, Ive had the opportunity to observe the fantastic work of Cecil Andrews College in my electorate, which is leading the way in STEM education. They are the only P-TECH school in WA and have had some fantastic success nationally competing in robotics competitions, as well as direct industry engagement at high school level.

Its programs like these that will train the next generation of miners and explorers.

If we get this right, it can add a whole new dimension to out of our large and growing exports METS: mining engineering, technology and services.

I cant wait to see how these talented students will help shape the future of the mining and other exciting industries.

Because fundamentally, this industry is about moving to production, generating income and creating jobs.

And to do this and to make sure we capture as much of the benefits of that here, we need to be producing a well trained and educated workforce locally.

So, I look forward to working together with you - firstly by listening - so that you the current generation, as well as the next generation, of miners, explorers and indeed our entire country can continue benefit from the increased growth and development of this great industry.

Labor is actually at one with you on this goal so dont be strangers in engaging with me and our fresh team going forward.

Thank you.

(Check against delivery)