AS PART of a Federal Parliament inquiry into economic engagement with Traditional Owners, Members of Parliament are travelling to the Northern Territory.

The Northern Australia Committee is holding public hearings in Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs, and will hear evidence from Land Councils, Native Title holders, Indigenous business leaders, local councils and other stakeholders.

Committee Chair Warren Entsch said that with 48 percent of the Territory’s land mass and 80 percent of its coastline granted as Aboriginal freehold, the Northern Territory is potentially a land of opportunity for Indigenous Australians—the key is finding a way to engage Indigenous people in exploring the opportunities their lands provide.

The Committee will hold public hearings in Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs.

Public hearing details

Date: Tuesday, 10 December 2019
Time: 9am to 5pm
Location: Ballroom B, Hilton Hotel, Mitchell St, Darwin

Date: Wednesday, 11 December 2019
Time: 9:30am to 1:15pm
Location: Roper Gulf Regional Council, Crawford St, Katherine

Date: Thursday, 12 December 2019
Time: 10:30am to 3:45pm
Location: Double Tree by Hilton, Barrett Drive, Alice Springs

The hearings will be broadcast live at aph.gov.au/live.

The inquiry commenced in the last Parliament, and was suspended during the election period. To date, the Committee has received 35 submissions and held four public hearings. Further details of the inquiry, including expanded terms of reference, can be found on the Committee’s website.

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LATEST FIGURES indicate that the number of new detached houses receiving approval fell by 6.8 percent during October to record its lowest result since January of 2013, according to Master Builders chief economist Shane Garrett. 

“Unfortunately, the weak figures were not limited to the detached side of the market. New approvals for apartments/units dropped by 10 percent over the course of October,” Mr Garrett said. 

“Results from previous months had suggested that the housing market was in the early stages of recovery, with approvals, prices and lending starting to move in the right direction.

“Today’s figures are a warning as to how delicate that recovery actually is," he said.  "Home building activity is reliant on new greenfield localities being opened up through investment in road and rail infrastructure, as well as the necessary utilities.

“For the most part, we are still waiting for actual work to begin on the wave of major transport infrastructure projects that have previously been committed,” Mr Garrett said. 

“The unnecessary delays here are placing the upturn in residential building at risk."

During October 2019, there was better news for commercial building approvals which grew by 4.2 percent in dollar terms compared with September. Overall, the value of commercial building approved has grown by some 17.7 percent over the past year. 

New South Wales led the decline in new home building approvals with a fall of 16.4 percent during the month. It was followed by the Northern Territory (-11.1%) and Queensland (-10.2%). 

Despite the weak national figures, new home building approvals increased in the majority of states. The largest gain was in South Australia (+14.7%), followed by Western Australia (+11.5%) and Tasmania (+6.2%). The number of approvals also rose in Victoria (+5.7%) and the ACT (+3.1%).

www.masterbuilders.com.au

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AN INQUIRY into 5G mobile technology in Australia will continue this week, with a hearing in Canberra.

House of Representatives Communications and the Arts Committee Chair David Gillespie said the hearing would feature regulators, researchers and industry leaders from a range of fields.

"During this inquiry, we’ve heard a range of views on the deployment of 5G and we’re keen to discuss some of the expressed concerns with experts," Dr Gillespie said.

"We’re also interested to learn more about the future of Australia’s 5G rollout. Australians are beginning to access some 5G services, and we want to hear from those responsible for its deployment.

"We want to hear about any potential risks and challenges and how these can be addressed."

Information about the inquiry, including the public hearing program, may be found on the committee’s webpage.

Public hearing details

Date: Friday, 6 December 2019
Time: 9am – 2.30pm
Location: Committee Room 2R2, Australian Parliament House, Canberra

The hearing will be broadcast live at aph.gov.au/live.

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THE CFMEU has added its voice to calls from the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) for the Palaszczuk Government to act on approvals for the New Hope coal mine near Oakey.

CFMEU Queensland Mining and Energy district president Stephen Smyth said the government must stand up for workers.

“This has gone on for long enough. I know first hand how important mining jobs are for regional Queensland,” Mr Smyth said.

“We want to see Queenslanders employed in the coal industry whether they’re in Moranbah or at Acland. New Hope workers deserve better than silence and stonewalling from the Palaszczuk Government.”

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the drawn out process for approvals sent a poor signal to investors.

“If Queensland wants to attract new investment that create new jobs, investors have to be confident of the rules and regulations that apply,” Mr Macfarlane.

“While people respect the courts, they expect leadership from the State Government. 150 people have already lost their jobs because of the uncertainly about the mine expansion. More are at risk without approvals.

“The Palaszczuk Government must act to back jobs.”

In 2007 Anna Bligh’s Government legislated to guarantee operations at Xstrata’s Wollombi project in Central Queensland in response to a court ruling.

At the time, Anna Bligh said: "My government is not prepared to have this uncertainty… Next week we will legislate to validate the mining lease so that the mine can proceed, but only with stringent environmental requirements."

www.qrc.org.au

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ONGOING confidence in the resources sector is translating into an increase in exploration investment across all major commodities but policy concerns persist, a new report from the Queensland Exploration Council (QEC) has found.

The QEC Scorecard was released at the QEC breakfast attended by the Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Anthony Lynham this morning.

“Coal exploration increased for only the second time since 2011-12 up by 25 percent. Copper and gold exploration expenditure lifted 19 percent and petroleum exploration expenditure grew by 10 percent,” QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said.

“The results underpin the growing optimism in the exploration industry with 58 percent of explorers planning to increase or significantly increase their exploration expenditure and 92 percent of drilling companies forecasting similar or increased spending over the next 12 months.

“Once again, the scorecard shows that Queensland is in prime position to benefit from our state’s rich mineral prospectivity.

“That investment has significant potential to grow," Mr Macfarlane said. "Queensland will be at the forefront of the development of the expanding critical minerals industry.

“Recently, I joined Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan on his critical minerals delegation to the United States.  This delegation reaffirmed the potential of the partnership between Australia and the US to invest in the projects that will provide the building blocks for everything in our modern societies from mobile phones, to cars and solar panels, as well as use in defence and other strategic industries.

“QRC will also work with the Queensland Government on the implementation of a $13.8 million five-year package to discover and develop critical minerals.”

QEC is the exploration arm of the QRC and its chair, Kim Wainwright, said a strong building block out of this year’s report was the close relationship that has been developed with the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy.

“Explorers’ rapport with the Queensland Department reached an all-time high," Mr Wainwright said. "For the first time in the Scorecard’s nine-year history, explorers were positive about departmental assistance.  This is an important relationship, and we hope it continues to grow.

“Our industry will continue to work constructively with the Government and the Department to improve the exploration permit process. Exploration is the cornerstone of the overall resources industry and if we don’t explore for new resources today we won’t have a resources industry into the future.”

Mr Macfarlane said the Scorecard also sounded a note of caution about access to capital, social licence to operate and policy uncertainty which was sitting at negative 36 points.

“If we are to attract new investment and create new jobs we need a clear and stable policy environment in which it to operate,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“This includes a clear, consistent approval framework and timetable, as well as potential for new exploration and new projects.  Despite our rich prospectivity, Queensland cannot take future investment for granted.

“These will be key issues for Queensland in the election year 2020.”

Both Mr Macfarlane and Ms Wainwright thanked outgoing QEC chair Brad John PSM for his outstanding dedication over the past two years to the QEC and the exploration industry.

www.qrc.org.au

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