Thursday, 22 June 2023

Shadow Minister for Resources, Senator Susan McDonald, has challenged the Government’s true commitment to the critical minerals sector.

“Despite Labor Ministers heralding critical minerals as the sector of the future, they have provided no clarity and no direction to the industry with their updated Critical Minerals Strategy,” Senator McDonald said.

“The reality is Labor has reduced funding for the sector, which made industry feel it had to ‘go it alone’.

“The $500 million allocated from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility is simply reallocated Coalition funding that David Littleproud and I announced in December of 2022.”

In Labor’s October 2022 Budget, the Coalition’s $200 million Critical Minerals Accelerator was slashed to $100 million, and renamed the Critical Minerals Development Program – a clear cut to the sector.

“This Government does not have a clear strategy, and the Minister is hamstrung by her Cabinet colleagues, as there is no certainty to industry with this announcement,” Senator McDonald said.

“Labor’s lethargic approach to the development of this important sector means that Australia risks missing out in the worldwide competition for necessary investment in mining and value-add industries.

“Industry must be incredibly disappointed with this Government’s announcement today – yet another example of Labor’s all talk and no action approach.

“I wrote to the Minister this month to advocate for the addition of potash, phosphate, aluminium, alumina, bauxite, nickel, copper, and zinc to Australia’s Critical Minerals list.

“This was strongly supported by industry groups like the Australian Aluminium Council, and the Queensland Resources Council to send a clear message to investors.

“Unfortunately, this Government has pushed any updates of the list out to 2026, which disappointingly highlights their lack of initiative in this sector.”

Senator McDonald said it was even more telling of the Albanese Government’s lack of direction that nearly all direct funding for critical minerals investments currently were Coalition initiatives.

“The Critical Minerals Facility, the NAIF, the Development Program, the Research and Development Hub – all of these groundbreaking programs were set up by former Coalition Ministers,” she said.

“I hope for Australia’s sake the Government steps up and delivers some certainty to this critical sector.”