Turnbull calls snap review of Australia’s mining industry #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Turnbull government calls snap review of Australia’s mining industry

Eryk Bagshaw27 March 2018 — 6:36pm

The Turnbull government has called a snap review of Australia’s mining industry – the first in nearly three decades – in a bid to find new reserves, attract more investment and end bitter political debate over the future of the lucrative resources sector.

In a major speech defending coal as a “great and beautiful industry,” Resources Minister Matthew Canavan will on Wednesday declare the “mining boom is not over” and call for big business to go beyond “high profile campaigns on tax policy” and publicly back the resources sector.

Senator Canavan will announce a seven-member panel will have six months to examine the resources sector before providing the Turnbull government with a suite of policy recommendations.

Senator Matt Canavan will on Wednesday declare the “mining boom is not over”.

Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

“Without limiting their work, I will ask them to focus on policies that can attract investment, contribute to regional economic progress, build community support, cut red tape, find new minerals and ensure that Australia gets best use of its mineral resources before they are exported,” Senator Canavan will say.

Indigenous community leader Marcia Langton has been appointed as a member of the review taskforce, which will be led by Queensland’s former Liberal National Party minister for natural resources, Andrew Cripps.

The mining-industry will have four heavyweights on the panel including BHP’s president of operations Mike Henry, the chief executive of Whitehaven Coal Paul Flynn, and president of the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies Will Robinson. The mayor of Mt Isa, Joyce McCulloch, has also been appointed.

Senator Canavan vowed the taskforce would deliver a national resources policy statement for the first time since the 1990s and said it had the potential to end partisan debate and provide investment certainty.

In a move that is likely to anger some environmentalists, no environmental advocacy groups were chosen to sit on the taskforce.

The chair of the offshore oil and gas environmental and safety regulator, Erica Smyth, and the former CEO of Geoscience Australia, Chris Pigram, have also been appointed to the body.

The minister will tell the National Press Club in Canberra that Australia can not afford to be complacent, warning the biggest threat to competitiveness is the emergence of the United States as a net energy exporter for the first time through its coal and LNG industries.

“We have had a good run for the past 50 years as the only developed country supplying resources to the Asian region,” he said. “That is likely to change”

Senator Canavan said the view that the mining boom was over and that the mining sector is likely to recede in importance “is fundamentally wrong”.

“Australian mining has been booming for 50 years and it shows no signs of slowing down,” he said.

Indigenous community leader Marcia Langton has been appointed as a member of the review taskforce.

Photo: Maxine Chaplin

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the mining industry contracted across all key indicators in 2015-16, with sales and service income declining by 11.4 per cent.

The government’s own figures from the Department of Industry show export earnings hit a high of $214 billion this year, but they are expected to pull back to $200 billion next financial year, as the Reserve Bank warns the “mining investment story is drawing to a close”.

Senator Canavan said China, and the other advancing economies of India, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia would continue to drive demand for Australian resources.

“That includes increases in the demand for Australian coal.

Australian coal is some of the highest quality in the world and we produce it more efficiently than most too,” he said.

He accused the Labor party of “failing to defend coal miners” after it refused to guarantee support for the Adani coal mine for not stacking up economically and environmentally.

“It is disappointing that the Labor party, the party that purports to represent coal miners, is talking down a great and beautiful Australian industry,” he said.

He warned that automation posed a threat to workers and regional areas.

“Mine workers can now operate large equipment thousands of kilometres from the site potentially from the top floor of a high rise building,” he said.

“Many Australian towns all owe their past or the present to the mining sector, I want regional towns to continue to benefit from mining.”

Calling on the industry to make itself known beyond the successful campaign against Labor’s mining tax, Senator Canavan said the term “social licence” is overused but the industry must generate support in the local communities it operates in.

“We also must ensure that there is an ongoing campaign to inform people of the benefits of the Australian resources industry outside of high profile campaigns on tax policy,” he said.

“We should promote the strong environmental performance of our resources sector, it is pre-eminent among the world.”

Eryk Bagshaw is an economics reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based in Parliament House

Press link for more: SMH.COM.AU

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