Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for RESOURCES, Mr ELLIS
You are constantly referring to 'getting the balance right' as you bulldoze your way through sensitive portfolio issues. Once again you have committed to getting the balance right when considering mineral exploration licences. The area covered by exploration licences for metallic minerals has doubled in just two and a half years to nearly 10 000 square kilometres and another 5000 square kilometres are on your desk for approval. However, you have no framework to guide what is now seen as a wholesale land-grab for some of Tasmania's most sensitive areas. It is disturbing how mining exploration licences are being ticked-off across the food bowl for Tasmania.
Let us be clear: we know and understand that we need to do mining exploration but farmers in northern Tasmania are furious that you are robbing them of agency over their land with zero consultation or consideration of the cumulative impact of exploration and mining. As a matter of urgency, will you actually get the balance right and enact law reform to ensure Tasmania's unique environment is properly protected and give landowners a real say about -
Mr SPEAKER - The member's time is up. We do have limited time.
Mr Speaker, we already knew it was going to be difficult for Dr Woodruff to keep to the one minute timeframe that she asked for and that was a classic example just then.
She is right and I am sorry the truth hurts, Dr Woodruff, but we have had a huge increase in exploration and mining interest here in Tasmania since we came to government, and that is a good thing.
It was a little bit strange that you acknowledged that you believe that we need mining, given that every time you open your mouth in this place about mining it is to shut it down. We are big backers of mining and agriculture on this side of the House because we believe that both are critical for the future economic success and job opportunities for young people in rural and regional Tasmania. Indeed, mining and farming have coexisted in Tasmania for generations such as at communities just up the road from me at Railton, Beaconsfield, and at Fingal where I was just the other day at the coal mine catching up with some outstanding Tasmanians.
Ultimately, we need to get the balance right as we work through these processes. We have an established process that we think gets that balance right, about the economic, social and environmental impacts and benefits of mining wherever it occurs, because we have some of the strongest processes in the world here in Tasmania and we should be quite rightly proud.
We also have some of the most confident miners and farmers in the world in Tasmania and that is being driven by a Government that gives them confidence and certainty, that does not listen to the whingers from the Greens who just want to shut down both industries - mining and farming as well as renewable energy, tourism and just about every other industry under the sun. All you do in this place is try to pit good people against each other as if it is a zero-sum game.
We know that we can get the balance right and support both. In terms of some specifics we have applications under way around a range of different areas and those processes are currently proceeding through a regulatory assessment and an approvals process. This is undertaken by Mineral Resources Tasmania and that is in line with the Mineral Resources Development Act 1995.
Dr Woodruff - But there is no consultation.
Mr ELLIS - There is, Dr Woodruff. The process allows the parties with an interest or a stake in lands covered by an application to lodge an objection. I understand that across different leases, objections when they are lodged can be worked through by MRT. Once an assessment has been completed, the Director of Mines then makes a recommendation to me as the minister to grant or refuse the application. It is important to note that no activity can occur on site until the application has been approved.
It is also important to note that no mining activity on site can occur as well until an application has been approved. It is also important to note that significant areas of the state are excluded from exploration activity, including national parks and the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, which make up a huge vast bulk of Tasmania's land mass. In the event that a mineral deposit is found, separate regulatory and environmental approvals will then be needed before extractive mining activity can then take place and any decision to allow mining is on a case-by-case basis on what is in the best interests of the state.
We are big supporters of mining and farming across the Tasmanian community and the economy. We know that both can coexist and they have done for generations. Rural and regional communities rely on these jobs and they do not want to see politicking from the Greens.