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Adjournment Speech on the Greens' plan to give Qlders a fair share of mining royalties

On Tuesday 11 August 2020, I gave a speech on the about the Greens' plan to make big mining companies pay their fair share, using that enormous wealth for the benefit of all Queenslanders.

You can read the full speech below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard), or watch it HERE.

Mr BERKMAN (Maiwar—Grn) (7.26 pm): I think one question has been crucial in Queensland politics for decades, and never more so than at this election. That question is this: how do we use our state’s enormous wealth? Both major parties are on a unity ticket here. They are content to funnel it towards mining billionaires. The Greens, on the other hand, think it should go to ordinary Queenslanders. Under Labor and the LNP, multinational mining corporations have ripped Queenslanders off and been praised for it. Between 2010 and 2020, they exported over $480 billion worth of coal, minerals and LNG and paid only seven per cent of that in royalties. Both major parties rely on the fiction that mining is an unmitigated good for regional Queensland, so why is it that every time a mining company packs up all they leave behind are giant holes and 20 per cent youth unemployment? Meanwhile, our public health and education systems remain chronically underfunded and a few mining CEOs get richer and richer.

The Queensland Greens have a very simple message for this election: imagine if we used that enormous mining wealth for all Queenslanders. Under our royalties plan, even with a planned phase-out of thermal coal by 2030, we could raise an extra $55 billion to invest in thriving regional economies that are no longer reliant on just mining. We could create the following: construction jobs building 100,000 public homes; jobs building 100 per cent publicly owned renewable energy; jobs in expanded health services and world-class education; and jobs in a revived manufacturing industry.

It is blatantly obvious by now that we cannot trust these mining corporations to create good, secure, well-paid and long-term jobs, but it seems like we cannot trust the major parties to do it either. Labor gave mining corporations a royalty freeze in the same month they froze the wages of 250,000 public sector workers—ripping $500 million out of spending from the economy. This is Labor. This is the party of the worker. It is a joke. Which workers would they be? They are certainly not the teachers or nurses who had their hard-won wage agreements ripped up this year.

When you see the supposed party of the worker giving a royalty freeze to mining billionaires in the middle of a recession at the expense of ordinary people, it is no wonder people are so sick of politics. But change is coming. This election, the Greens have tripled our campaigning capacity and we are on track to win multiple seats in this parliament in October. This means an unprecedented platform to finally tip the scales in favour of ordinary people. Really, what we are asking for is pretty simple—when it comes to Queensland’s enormous wealth, we just want more for Queenslanders and less for mining billionaires.

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