Australia's mineral wealth - coal and iron ore, and sundry other resources - fuels the global car industry. Much of that manufacturing is in Asia.
In August 2010 Australian motoring journalist John Cadogan and Today Tonight reporter David Eccleston followed iron ore from the Pilbara region in Western Australia to the Hyundai Steel mill in South Korea and back to Australia - as cars.
The story, called 'Resources' aired on Channel Seven in shortly before the 2010 Australian Federal Election.
Resources follows the ‘round trip’ journey of Australian iron ore from the Pilbara in WA from the Tom Price mine to export, shipping, and through a giant manufacturing conglomerate where it is turned first into steel and then into millions of cars in southeast Asia. Resources finishes with Australian iron ore in effect being imported back into Australia for sale as cars, and includes the recent mining super profits tax debate.
As Resources went to air, the 2010 federal election campaign was in full swing. The mining super profits tax issue was of the highest national significance. It was instrumental in removing Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister, and had already proved to be a significant catalyst for the federal election. It led the news frequently. There were polarized views on mining tax between the two major parties and in the community.
The mining super profits tax and the resources that underpinned it as an issue was hotly debated for weeks. Many Australians who followed the debate as an issue would have at that time perhaps lacked perspective on what resources were substantively – what resources are as a tangible matter, as opposed to merely being a concept stuck between opposing policy and/or community views.
Many Australians are peripherally aware of our resource industry, its success, its economic importance, etc. At the same time, many would also probably concede they have little understanding what our resources actually are, where they go, how much they earn and what they are used to produce – and how important they are to nations whose economies are heavily invested in manufacturing sectors.
By following the return journey of Australian iron ore to South Korea, Today Tonight demonstrated clearly to many Australians the complex and challenging issue of how valuable our resources are on the global stage, and what they mean to Australia's future.
Resources put Australia’s mineral wealth into perspective and made it both tangible and consumable.