Resources sector loses ‘tireless passionate’ leader
THE resources sector has lost a "tireless and passionate advocate" in Senator Matt Canavan, industry heads have said, following the relegation of the Nationals heavy hitter to the backbench.
Rockhampton-based Senator Canavan is unlikely to regain his Northern Australia and Resources ministerial portfolios in Federal Government, after he resigned from the position to back his former boss Barnaby Joyce in the latter's ultimately unsuccessful tilt for leader of the National Party.
Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals Leader Michael McCormack managed to stave off a leadership challenge on Tuesday morning, triggered after his deputy Bridget McKenzie stood down over a failure to declare a conflict of interest.
Asked about Senator Canavan's ministerial future in a post-ballot interview, Mr McCormack said; "he resigned … and I wish him well", indicating he will be relegated to the backbench.
Discussions are now underway within the federal government's leadership as to who will get the extensive portfolios, which includes responsibility for the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, federal issues north of the tropic of Capricorn, and a multibillion-dollar industry that rakes in much of Australia's wealth.
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane, himself a former Federal minister, said the loss of Senator Canavan was a "big loss to the resources industry", describing him as a tireless and passionate advocate who stood up to a lot of the "extraordinary and quite ridiculous claims" that had been made by activists.
Senator Canavan's successor will have "big shoes to fill", Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Tania Constable said.
"In particular, mine workers from pits to ports across the country appreciated Senator Canavan's staunch support for their jobs and industry," she said.
Overnight Senator Canavan also declared he had failed to disclose his membership as a supporter of the NQ Cowboys, months after the club was granted a $20 million Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility loan, something Senator Canavan has ultimate oversight of.
In the Senate this morning, he said he had sought further advice and the failure to declare this membership was not a breach of ministerial standards nor a conflict of interest.