Opinion Piece – Labor needs to deliver certainty for mine

Senator Jonno Duniam

Published in the Advocate 16 July 2022


GETTING by is becoming harder and harder, particularly in the regions. Power prices up almost 12 per cent in Tasmania, fuel prices up roughly 28 per cent since the new year, interest rates climbing another 0.5 basis points just this month and, of course, our weekly groceries getting more and more pricey. A time like this is when we need certainty, and we need the government to be in our corner.

At the time of writing, the federal Minister for the Environment, Labor’s Tanya Plibersek, is reconsidering the decision of herpredecessor, Sussan Ley, on the approval for the preliminary works to examine the viability of the tailbones dam expansion at Rosebery’s MMG mine.

We’ve all heard the arguments from various groups claiming widespread devastation and carnage if approval for these works and subsequent approval of the dam itself is granted. But we all know that these claims are not made based on science or fact and
certainly not made by anyone that seriously cares about the economic future of Tasmanians living on the West Coast.

Against the backdrop of worsening cost of living pressures, the government needs to be placing emphasis on the economic importance of projects like the MMG tailings dam project, which impacts on just 0.06 per cent of the 477,000-hectare Tarkine region, and provides minerals for electrical storage batteries that support our clean-energy future.

The decision before the minister is of course one that directly impacts the livelihoods of 500 hardworking men and women at the mine and the entire economy of the West Coast. Approval of this project is better than any government handout or support program, and is the right call to make.

With the strong advocacy of the Member for Braddon, Gavin Pearce, the Morrison government was able to deliver for the West Coast. Among many examples were our investments in the Defence Force Veteran Transition Centre in Burnie and the North-Northwest Tasmania Regional Forestry Hub. These complemented our investments in Hobart’s Nyrstar zinc smelter that receives minerals from the MMG mine. Our government chose to support the MMG mine and the livelihoods it underpins.

Much in the same way that the Morrison government went to unprecedented lengths to safeguard our economy and keep it ticking over during the pandemic, the Albanese government owes it to the West Coast to support its industries and protect its jobs