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Address to the Australian Agribusiness: Global Opportunities – Local Expertise Conference by Senator the Hon Matt Canavan

by 22 November 2019

 

It is a great honour to be here as part of the third National Agriculture and Related Industries Day. Thank you to Tony Seabrook and the Pastoralists and Graziers Association for organising this conference today. I would also like to recognise Mrs Gina Rinehart, the founding patron of the National Agriculture and Related Industries Day, and Mr Kim Beazley, the Governor of Western Australia.

I have just got off a 31-hour (with stopovers) flight from Washington DC, so please excuse me if I am a little slow this afternoon! On Monday in DC, I met with the US Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt. In his office there is a beautiful painting of the construction of the Hoover Dam.

The Hoover Dam was more than just an enormous engineering feat, it also helped change the world’s view of agricultural development. The dam had been the idea of John Powell, a veteran of the Battle of Shiloh, were he lost an arm. Despite only having one arm, John led the first American expedition of the wild Colorado River and the Grand Canyon in 1869. In 1878, John Powell produced a report on western US agricultural opportunities titled The Report on the Arid Land of the Arid Region of the United States – and remember Powell supported the development of this self-described arid region!

He did disagree, however, with some of the common views of the time. Then, there was a view that the west could be developed according to a Jeffersonian ideal of small,

independent, yeoman farmers without the need for government involvement that would dilute Americans’ well-known aptitude for individual enterprise. Powell disagreed. He became a champion for large government-funded dam projects as the only way to harness the wild rivers and irrigate the arid lands of the Colorado Basin.

Powell did not live to see his vision become a reality. Technological and political developments in the early 20th century, however, did result in an amazing manifestation of Powell’s dreams in the form of the then named Boulder Dam – later renamed the Hoover Dam. In opening the dam in 1936, President Roosevelt paraphrased Julius Caesar “I came, I saw and I was conquered”.

What are the lessons of this for us? I think they remain that the opening up of new agricultural areas has always involved a healthy degree of large scale government investment.

A few years ago the CSIRO looked closely at a number of agricultural initiatives in Northern Australia and found that: All four of the continuing large scale (> 10,000 ha) irrigation schemes (Ord, Burdekin, Emerald and Mareeba-Dimbulah) have received significant government investment … With the exception of Katherine and Lakeland Downs, all of the private agricultural development schemes that had little or no direct government investment, particularly in infrastructure, have not persisted.

That is why the Federal Government has been leading the push to build the water infrastructure that will help double our agricultural production by 2030. When we came to government six years ago, no one was talking of building dams and we had lost a generation with no dams being built. We have changed the conversation and things are now happening.

This week construction of the Rookwood weir in the Fitzroy Basin near Rockhampton began.

Last month contracts were signed to begin the Hells Gate Dam near Townsville, and the Federal Government announced investments of over $500 million in three dam projects in New South Wales. All up now the government has invested around $1.5 billion in new water projects across the country.

There is lots of opportunity here in Western Australia too. Last year, the CSIRO completed a major study for the Australian Government on the opportunities for additional water infrastructure in the Mitchell (in North Queensland), Darwin and Fitzroy (in Western Australia) catchments. Given the location of this conference in Western Australia and the limits on my time, I will concentrate on the Western Australian angle.

The CSIRO concluded that almost 200,000 hectares of land could be irrigated in the Fitzroy using a combination of on-farm dams and groundwater. To put that in context that is more than six times the size of the Ord. There is enormous potential.

We are often told to listen to this science. Well the science is in. We can develop the water and soils of our vast country and do so in a way that grows more food without damaging the environment. These conclusions were drawn by 100 of our top scientists at the CSIRO working for over a year. Of course, the naysayers were out of the blocks quickly, that respected scientific organisation GetUp! said on the release of the report that dams “wreak havoc on ecosystems”. While the Labor Party dismissed the report as a “thought bubble”.

What the CSIRO’s work shows is that it has never been a lack of good soils or lots of water that has restricted intensive agricultural development of our north. It has been a lack of people. The lack of people in Northern Australia in particular has limited the size of the market to make it hard to get a diverse agricultural districts up and running.

We are not going to be able to create towns of millions of people in Northern Australia overnight but we can provide better market access to the countries of Asia where there are billions of people.

We have worked hard to open new markets and over the last few years. Since 2013, the Australian Government has concluded eight new trade agreements and the vast majority of our exports are now covered by free trade agreements. Key wins for agriculture have included better beef access to Japan, Korea and China, and more consistent access for the live cattle trade with Indonesia.

The latest free trade agreement was only concluded last month and the Regional Cooperation and Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement is the largest free trade agreement ever concluded, covering 30 per cent of the world’s GDP.

It is unfortunate that India could not reach agreement to be included in the final agreement.

However, I remain hopeful of stronger trade ties with India in the future. There is a logical, synergy between the development of the Fitzroy basin in Western Australia and the growing food needs of the subcontinent. There are three main reasons that WA agriculture and the development of the Indian economy make sense: geography, diet and weather.

The Kimberley faces the Indian Ocean with easy access to Indian ports. The Kimberley has a similar climate to the subcontinent, making for ideal growing conditions for the pulses and grains prevalent in Indian diets. And finally, the Kimberley has counter-seasonal and counter-cyclical growing conditions.

The seasons are at different times of the year and the Indian Ocean dipole effect means that when it is wet in north-western WA it is often dry on the subcontinent, and vice-versa. Thinking of India and Western Australia as a connected food bowl makes abundant sense.

Making such a partnership will have to be approached carefully. Australia can never replace the farming needed in Asian countries. Even today Australia only produces enough food for about 60 million people. We hope to double that by 2030 but even if we do we will then feed just over 120 million. We will be a long way from being able to feed India, let alone many of the other countries we already supply.

Still, India will face a major challenge feeding itself as its demand for high quality proteins increase alongside its economic growth. As a recent academic paper concluded last year: Under India’s current self-sufficiency model, our analysis indicates severe shortfalls in availability of all macronutrients across a large proportion (>60%) of the Indian population. The extent of projected shortfalls continues to grow such that, even in ambitious waste reduction and yield scenarios, enhanced domestic production alone will be inadequate in closing the nutrition supply gap. We suggest that to meet SDG2 [Zero Hunger] India will need to take a combined approach of optimising domestic production and increasing its participation in global trade.

What Australia can do though is provide an important buffer to guarantee a country’s food security during droughts and other interruptions to a nation’s food supply. We are helping do that right now in China as they respond to the swine flu crisis.

We also suffer our own interruptions from time to time and we are seeing that starkly at the moment with one of the worst droughts in our history. There is so much suffering for many in the farming community and it is hard to see. What we can do is provide assistance to relieve suffering, however, governments can never completely remove it.

We have provided over $8 billion of funding towards the response to this drought. As the drought has gotten more severe we have made a greater response. Just a fortnight ago we announced that we would fire up the Adelaide Desalination Plant so that we could provide more water to desperate farmers. The capacity of this plant is only 100G a year so it will not help everyone, but it will make an important contribution. We will ensure that this water goes to those doing it tough and it will be used to grow fodder to keep livestock alive (especially the all-important breeding stock) and to help the dairy industry.

A double blow hit the other day when farmers already suffering with drought have been hit by bushfires. One of the fires started just around the corner from where I live. It has destroyed over 10,000 hectares of farming land and an entire lychee orchard.

There are those saying that climate change is increasing fire risk in Australia. I think the evidence for this is more complicated than is often made out, but there is enough there that we should make some response.

The key point is, however, that if the risk is higher, we should be doing more to mitigate and reduce that risk. That means more cool burns, that means more fire breaks and that means less restrictions on farmers clearing their own land. Instead state governments, like mine in Queensland, are doing less to reduce fuel loads, and they are putting more red tape on farmers just trying to manage their own land. We have to hit reverse on these wrong-headed policies in light of these fires.

It is the same with the broader ideas I have placed here to expand our agricultural opportunities – too often government red tape holds our farmers back from reaching their true potential. I started this speech by recounting how a one-armed man overcame his disability to help contribute towards the building of perhaps the greatest dam in history.

Our farmers are a bit the same except they have governments who tie one arm behind their backs. Like John Powell, our farmers still get things done. Look at what Gina has achieved in agriculture and mining despite the thousands of regulations she has had to navigate.

But imagine what we could all do with two arms. I am committed to doing what we can to remove that red tape, to fulfil our potential to develop our great country and to help provide food to a growing world.

November 22, 2019 | National Mining & Related Industries Day

by 22 November 2019

November the 22nd signifies National Mining and Related Industries Day 2019, an important annual day that will be celebrated this year at Kings Park in Perth, Western Australia.

A time to reflect, consider, appreciate & champion the mining community and the myriad of benefits to all Australians that result.

Co-sponsored by Roy Hill, Rio Tinto and BHP, this year, as prior years events, will be truly remarkable.

Aside from enjoying world-class entertainment throughout, this year’s 3,000 strong audiences will have the opportunity to listen to National Mining and Related Industries Day Patrons Tad Watroba, Hancock Prospecting’s Executive Director and the pinnacle of the mining industry, Gina Rinehart, Hancock Prospecting’s Executive Chairman.

Special guests at the event include the Federal Resources Minister, the Hon Senator Matthew Canavan as well as leaders from BHP, Rio Tinto and Roy Hill whom will each speak in contribution and in celebration of our industry. Each of which acknowledging just how significant mining and its related industries are to investment, job creation and ongoing significantly enhanced Australian living standards.

This annual celebration presents a brilliant opportunity for us all to show genuine appreciation for Australia’s mining and related industries – as they remain ultimately, one of our country’s most significant and necessary sectors, essential to the ongoing quality of life experienced by every Australian.

CEO Magazine – Maserati to Moët: Inside the inspiring 2019 Executive of the Year Awards

by 15 November 2019

Article courtesy of CEO Magazine

Australia’s top executives gathered to celebrate another remarkable business year at The Palladium at Crown, Melbourne for The CEO Magazine’s Executive of the Year Awards.
Dressed in their finest black-tie attire, hundreds of industry leaders trickled into the country’s largest ballroom to recognise the 22 inspiring category winners (plus the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award), as well as the striking success of the many finalists.
As soon as guests arrived at the prestigious venue, they captured the moment against the media wall before venturing into a Gatsby-inspired cocktail room complete with blue velvet armchairs, gold tables, dozens of fresh bouquets and, most importantly, a captivating Maserati poised in the centre.
With a refreshing glass of The Dalmore Old Fashioned cocktail or flute of Moët & Chandon Champagne in hand, business leaders, including the talented guest judges, mingled as others signed up to participate in the evening’s silent auction. Of the incredible items being auctioned off was the incredibly rare A$12,000 bottle of The Dalmore 35-year-old, with all proceeds being donated to the Children’s Cancer Institute.
Following the red-carpet arrivals, guests including Gina Rinehart trickled into the breathtaking ballroom ready for an evening of festivities, presented by Channel 7’s charming Larry Emdur.
Between mouthwatering dishes of slow-cooked lamb loin, hot-smoked king salmon, pan-seared barramundi, 12-hour braised Riverine beef cheek and delectable sweets including mango tarts with passionfruit foam, raspberry and milk chocolate mousse and lemon meringue tartlets, guests were entertained by a variety of enthralling acts.
Impersonator Ben Price had the room in stitches as he satirically took on the personalities of some famous faces. Later in the evening, mesmerising aerialists elegantly danced with silk ribbons as Hanna Oblikov, who has played with the likes of Ed Sheeran and Chet Faker, delighted the audience with her magical cello performance.
And it wasn’t just a night of beguiling acts. Almost 30 extraordinary business leaders were recognised for their outstanding efforts.
The guest judging panel – Sportsgirl CEO Colleen Callander, BMX CEO Dave Fenlon, OzHarvest Founder and CEO Ronni Kahn, Salesforce CEO Australia and New Zealand Pip Marlow, Maserati Australia, New Zealand and South Africa COO Glen Sealey, Wilson Group CEO Operations Jose Da Silva, Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman, The CEO Circle CEO John Karagounis, Twitter Australia MD Suzy Nicoletti, Europcar Australia and New Zealand MD Ron Santiago and 2018 CEO of the Year winner Mark Nielsen – named MLC Life Insurance CEO David Hackett the 2019 CEO of the Year.
The eighth annual Executive of the Year Awards was given an extra special touch this year, with the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Gina Rinehart in recognition of her outstanding contributions and accomplishments throughout her career.

CFOs’ vision for the future is less government

by 8 November 2019

The AFR View, courtesy of the Australian Financial Review

By learning how to guide the direction of the business and how to lead by communicating the company story today’s CFOs will develop the skill set that can make them the CEOs of tomorrow.

The message from The Australian Financial Review CFO Live 2019 summit is that the role of the CFO of the future will focus on transforming companies to deal with the complex challenges – from big data to social licences and populist politics – confronting business.

The summit made it clear that what CFOs want from government is not cheap advice about the need for more investment, but for government to get out of the way and cut the red tape and over-regulation that make their jobs even harder.

Opening the summit, the nation’s CFO – Finance Minister Mathias Cormann – reassured the nation’s chief financial officers that the government’s fiscally responsible budget strategy has left consumers and businesses with more money in their pockets to spend and invest, to stimulate growth. This record clearly hasn’t impressed Cochlear chief executive Brent Cubis, who said the best way to encourage business to invest would have been for the government not to have given up on cutting Australia’s internationally uncompetitive 30 per cent company tax rate. His most damning statement, however, was that in hindsight CSL – one of our most internationally successful companies – ‘‘wouldn’t set up in Australia’’, to avoid the past decade’s reform-shy, anti-business political environment.

There was also little sympathy among CFOs for Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s demand that business slash investment hurdle rates and give less back to shareholders, to kickstart the economy. Wesfarmers CFO Anthony Gianotti said that business could both invest and return capital to shareholders.

Investment decisions were based not just on cost of capital or a single fixed ROI number, but also on a range of complex, long-term risk factors, including political instability and regulatory complexity. And baking in lower interest rates into investment decisions would mostly inflate the prices of assets. Woodside CFO Sherry Duhe agreed that cutting red tape and providing certainty was the key factor in business and investors having the confidence to greenlight and finance major projects.

The summit heard that the forces reshaping the role of business are also reshaping the role of CFOs. Rather than simply filling the traditional role of overseeing company finances, CFOs’ control over the purse strings is allowing them to drive decision-making around companies’ social and environmental purpose. Andrew Porter, chair of Group of 100 and CFO of the Australian Foundation Investment Company, said that while CFOs still had to do their core work right, they also need to partner with others across the business to ensure companies operate in the sustainable way that investors and stakeholders expect.

PwC’s Matt Graham suggested CFOs will be at the forefront of ensuring that companies develop the systems needed to accurately measure and report on their social impact. Jessica Fries, head of the The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project, agreed and said that the response to automated accounting should be to reimagine the role of CFOs and finance teams by using data to drive performance across companies around sustainability, and to also measure the value that operating sustainably adds to the business. This would put CFOs at the forefront of developing the business lens through which companies should view their social licence, according to Coca-Cola Amatil’s Alison Watkins.

The CFO of the future will be engaged across all aspects of the business and developing the corporate strategy. As Gina McNamara, CFO of SAP, put it, CFOs will no longer be known mostly for their technical skills and trying to get the numbers right, but for being able to use data to lead a company.

As enterprise leaders, said IAG’s CFO Nick Hawkins, they will use the data to understand the business and its customers, what needs to change and why, and to get people on board with the transformation process.

And ASX’s Gillian Larkins explained that CFOs who used to just read the company by the numbers will now be challenged to take a much bigger seat at the table. By stepping up to the leadership opportunities, CFOs will transform not only their present roles but their career paths. By learning how to guide the direction of the business and how to lead by communicating the company story today’s CFOs will develop the skill set that can make them the CEOs of tomorrow.

Cut red tape to boost economy, say CFOs

by 8 November 2019

Article by Jonathan Shapiro and James Thomson, courtesy of the Australian Financial Review

The nation’s top finance chiefs say cutting red tape would do more to help the economy than further interest rate cuts or budget stimulus, with Wesfarmer’s chief financial officer, Anthony Gianotti, urging the government to retain some fiscal dry powder.

And despite Finance Minister Mathias Cormann again urging business to increase capital expenditure to lift employment and wages, top chief financial officers said they were cautious about reducing hurdle rates on potential investments, warning low rates would push up asset prices and investors remain hungry for dividends.

Woodside Petroleum chief financial officer Sherry Duhe told The Australian Financial Review CFO Live conference in Sydney on Thursday that the energy giant had projects worth in excess of $45 billion in the pipeline and had implored federal and state governments to help deliver them on time.

“Cutting red tape and just having regulatory efficiency is really important for us, because the number of agencies and individuals that we have to deal with can be overwhelming,” she said.

“If you’ve got to wait months every time [you get to the] next step, there’s a real risk you cannot meet your project schedules.”

Mr Gianotti, CFO of Wesfarmers, which was until recently Australia’s largest employer, said a myriad of local and state regulations complicated their efforts to run a national business.

“There are things that can be done without reducing governance in terms of what we are required to comply with,” he said, adding that the budget surplus was a “big positive”.

“It probably allows the government to do something if things get worse. At the moment, the level of stimulus is OK and I think … making it easier for business to invest and lowering regulation would be helpful.”

Cochlear CFO Brent Cubis said a lower corporate tax rate would have been the best way to encourage more investment but he conceded “we lost that battle“, despite lobbying alongside fellow health giant CSL.

“If we had our time over again, we wouldn’t set up in Australia,” Mr Cubis said. “And CSL is one of the most amazing companies in the world.”

Mr Cubis said an extension of the electoral cycle from three to four years would improve the stability of the economy, and suggested incentives around visas could help.

“We are losing good people,” he said.


Diminishing returns

Alison Harrop, the chief financial officer of Dexus, one of Australia’s largest commercial landlords, said consumers needed more confidence about the outlook for the housing market, and interest rate cuts could only do so much.

“There’s a low of diminishing returns to some degree. You may not be generating the sort of stimulus that people expect,” she said.

Telstra CFO Vicki Brady backed this view, telling the conference “there are plenty of levers and low rates alone are not going to do it”.

But a number of the CFOs reported that the economy was in better shape than the headline figures suggest, adding support to the view of Senator Cormann, who told the conference he was cautiously upbeat ahead of the federal budget update next month.

“What I can say is the RBA governor made a very clear statement that he expects economic growth to gradually strengthen and return to trend growth in 12 months,” he said. “We are quietly optimistic.”

But Senator Cormann added his voice to those of Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in calling for businesses to grow the economy by lifting investment levels.

“If we are going to create more jobs and allow people to keep more of what they earn, we need businesses to increase their capital expenditure,” Senator Cormann said.

Mr Lowe has urged companies to reduce the hurdle rates on potential investments (the desired rate of return) following falls in interest rates, while Mr Frydenberg has suggested companies should prioritise investment over shareholder returns.

But while Australia’s cash rate now sits below 1 per cent for the first time in history, large companies are still apprehensive about lowering hurdle rates.

Dangerous game

Wesfarmers’ Mr Gianotti said it was “a dangerous game to bake what are historically low interest rates into a long-term view” and hurdle rates were just one assumption that formed part of the assessment of a project.

“It’s easy to talk to a hurdle rate because it’s a single number and you can move it up and down, but the reality is it’s much more complex than that,” he said.

He also warned that an economy-wide shift to lower hurdle rates could be dangerous.

“If people start to factor in lower discount rates and lower hurdle rates, it actually pushes asset prices up,” he said.

“One way to destroy a lot of shareholder value is to overpay for an acquisition, so it’s something we are focused on.”

Ms Brady said Telstra invested over $3 billion a year but that it has a “hard balance” to satisfy institutional investors that wanted the company to invest more and the needs of the 1.3 million individual shareholders that relied on the dividend.

“We then have institutional investors overseas and can guarantee you they will ask why aren’t you investing more and why is the dividend as high as it is?

“Where we have good business cases and we need to invest for growth we do. But we do need to be mindful of the dividend.”

Woodside’s Ms Duhe said it was “too soon to rethink hurdle rates” but she did say the company was taking advantage of lower borrowing costs in the debt market.

“We went out earlier this year and did our biggest bond we’ve ever done at $1.5 billion and you will see us getting funding while can as opposed to waiting when we need it.”

‘Good idea’ to invest in real estate

Ms Harrop from Dexus said ultra-low interest rates were driving the investment decisions of global investors.

“Super funds and sovereign funds use to be sticky about a return number, but we are seeing that absolutely come down as interest rates hit the floor.”

She said it would be “silly” not to reconsider interest rate hurdles given how low interest rates are, pointing out that real estate investments were delivering a yield of almost 3 percentage points above the government bond rate – “literally at all time highs”.

“So putting your money in real estate is really a good idea and we are finding a lot of offshore capital is flooding into Australia wanting to get invested.”

Meanwhile, CFO lobby Group of 100 announced on Thursday that REA Group CFO Janelle Hopkins was its new president, taking over from Andrew Porter, the CFO of Australian Foundation Investment Company. There are 32 female CFOs in the ASX 200.

Red tape rebounds to record high

by 7 November 2019

Article by Adam Creighton courtesy of The Australian

Red tape, driven by federal agencies, has grown to record levels ­despite Tony Abbott’s 2013 pledge to slash constraints on the economy.

The number of regulations in federal law has increased by 9 per cent to 356,000 since 2013, ­according to research by the Institute of Public Affairs, despite the former prime minister having a promising start in his quest to cut red tape after winning government.

The level of federal regulation dropped more than 3 per cent in 2014 after the Abbott government began a campaign to prune it, saving the economy almost $6bn.

The regrowth in red tape has sparked a renewed push from the Morrison government to slash unwanted regulations.

At a state level, the IPA research outed the Labor-run ­administrations of Queensland and Victoria as the heaviest-handed when it came to red tape.

Describing regulatory bloat as “shocking” and “very undemocratic”, Daniel Wild, the IPA’s ­director of research, pointed to “rapid growth of regulation ­imposed by unelected and unaccountable regulators”.

Constraints from regulation made by federal agencies, such as ASIC or APRA, have surged ­almost 200 per cent since 2005, while restrictions within laws have plateaued.

“The will of the people means little when regulators have a free rein. Parliament is pushing more policy responsibility to an unelected cadre of elitist regulators who have taken a sledgehammer to small businesses,” Mr Wild said.

Ben Morton, the federal minister overseeing the government’s latest deregulation push, “welcomed” the IPA’s research.

He said that deregulation required “renewed” and “constant vigilance” which was why the government this year created a deregulation taskforce.

“This doesn’t let individual ministers and departments off the hook,” he told The Australian. “I have presented to departmental secretaries to outline the government’s objectives and departments will now … report through the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to me.”

Conducted jointly with the US-based Mercatus Centre, the IPA analysis uses artificial intelligence to count restrictions in laws and regulations, such as instances of “should”, “must”, and “shall not”.

Queensland had 118,765 restrictions, more than any other state, followed by Victoria with 113,737. Tasmania had 39,514, the least in aggregate but 74 per 1000 people — a higher ratio than the other states. “While federal regulations attract the most attention, state government impose a substantial regulation impost,” the ­research concluded.

Since 1977, the first year available, the number of constrains within federal laws has surged from 23,000 to 123,000.

“Evidence from the United States and Canada shows that cutting regulatory restrictions boosts growth and job creation. We should expect to see similar results in Australia,” said Patrick McLaughlin, a Mercatus analyst who developed the “regdata” technique that has helped US states and Canadian provinces curb regulation.

The Trump administration has introduced the fewest number of new restrictions of any US government since the Carter administration in 1977; only 19 significant new rules were introduced in its first year.

Mr Wild said the lesson from the US was that when you cut taxes and deregulate the economy “the result is an economic boom”.

Gina slams ‘selfish extremists’

by 2 November 2019

Article by Sarah-Jane Tasker and Sean Smith courtesy of the Weekend West

WA billionaire Gina Rinehart has backed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s move to bring in laws to deal with “selfish extremism” as she calls for interim measures to address foreigner activists.

Ms Rinehart, whose company Hancock Prospecting has revealed an annual profit of $2.6 billion – WA’s biggest profit by a private company – said the Prime Minister had correctly pointed out that the activity of the recent anti-mining extremists in Melbourne was selfish, blocking people from being able to get to their workplaces.

“It was also grossly disrespectful to our police,” she said.

“The Prime Minister has said he and the Attorney-General will be bringing in new laws to better cope with such selfish extremism.

“I hope in the interim they can quickly bring in laws against foreigners flying in to Australia to create such extremist disruption.” Ms Rinehart added she was fortunate to be in the mining industry.

“I can be proud of the industry because it makes such a contribution to the lives of those working in it, including the many related industries that exist because of the mining industry,” she said.

“I hope all in the industry will feel proud to be working in an industry so essential to civilisation.” Her comments came after it was revealed Hancock Prospecting had doubled its profit from last year on the back of strong iron ore prices.

The Perth-based company’s assets are anchored by a 70 per cent stake in the big Roy Hill iron ore mine, 340km southeast of Port Hedland, but also include Ms Rinehart’s extensive cattle operations and property and sharemarket investments.

Increased prices for Roy Hill’s iron ore are believed to have driven the surge in Hancock’s revenue from $5.8 billion to $8.4 billion.

The result supported another big dividend payout of $483 million, though that was down from the previous year’s $528 million and less than half of the $1.24 billion in dividends pocketed by Fortescue Metals Group chairman Andrew Forrest for the year.

Ms Rinehart is already WA’s richest person, topping The West Australian’s rich list with $15.7 billion in wealth, up from $12.9 billion in 2018.

Even allowing for the dividend payments, the Hancock result was so good that the company also managed to repay $US600 million of debt last month and put aside another $US400 million for a further repayment in January.

Perth to host gala ag dinner

by 16 October 2019

Article by Aidan Smith, courtesy of Farm Weekly

THE National Agriculture and Related Industries Day Gala Dinner will be held in Perth for the first time next month with more than 600 interstate and international guests, including farmers, pastoralists, agribusiness leaders and politicians expected to converge at the exclusive event.

The high-profile dinner is expected to attract plenty of attention and will be held at Burswood on Swan on Thursday, November 21.

The purpose of the dinner is to celebrate Australia’s agricultural industries and indulge in Western Australia’s world-renowned wine and food.

It is the third year the dinner has been held, with events at Canberra in 2017 and Sydney in 2018, each attracting 300-380 attendees.

The patron and founder of National Agriculture and Related Industries Day, Gina Rinehart, said the day was “a very special day to recognise and celebrate our industry and its related industries, all of those hard working people who spend day after day producing food for our State and nation and for our trading partners too”.

“The National Agriculture and Related Industries Day gala dinner will be held this year in Perth for the first time,” Ms Rinehart said.

“We especially hope many from the land will come to Perth to enjoy seeing their friends and to enjoy the Australian and international entertainment and celebrate their day.”

Ms Rinehart said Akubras and boots were “very welcome”, as well as representatives from the fishing industry – “everyone who contributes to our diverse agricultural industry”.

“Agriculture is a very important industry for WA, in both our history and in our future, it creates tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in revenue which helps our government afford to build the roads, hospitals, police, kindergartens and more,” she said.

“National Agriculture and Related Industries Day is a day we can thank our pastoralists and farmers, our fisherman, our viticulturists, bee keepers, our poultry and egg producers, our market gardeners and fruit growers and associated industries and all those who give meaningful contributions to our agricultural industry.

“We hope you are proud of your industry and your contribution.”

As part of National Agriculture and Related Industries Day celebrations, the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA (PGA) will be facilitating a panel of agribusiness leaders and policy makers to identify where the greatest growth opportunities lie.

The forum, Australian Agribusiness – Global Opportunities, Local Expertise, will provide a platform for Australian Agribusiness leaders and politicians to provide their expertise to a national audience on identifying these growth opportunities and showcase the nation’s global profile.

“Of all the sectors in the Australian economy, agribusiness is the sector with the strongest combination of playing most to Australia’s competitive advantages and being a sector producing what the world increasingly wants,” said PGA president Tony Seabrook.

“However this optimism over the future prospects of Australian agribusiness raises the question – where within this sector do the greatest growth opportunities lie?

“This will be just one of the many questions we will be exploring at the forum, which will involve agribusiness leaders and policy makers, including Australia’s most successful agribusiness leader, Gina Rinehart.”

Regulatory Dark Matter – Australia’s Secret Red Tape Crisis

by 3 October 2019

Australia has a red tape crisis. And it’s the red tape you can’t see that’s making the problem worse.

Kurt Wallace’s new report exposes Regulatory Dark Matter in Australia.

President Trump Delivers Remarks at “Howdy Modi: Shared Dreams, Bright Futures”

by 24 September 2019