New Vision for a competitive North | The resources sector is not an ATM

17 May 2013

In an important speech to the Australian Mines and Metal Association today, ANDEV Chairman Mrs Gina Rinehart warned that government must not take the mining industry for granted and must do more to unleash North Australia’s potential.

“We’ve been saddled with bad government policies that make us uncompetitive, when we could instead make the north a productive food bowl and source of minerals, as well as a centre for medical care, tourism and services for not just Australia but our Asian neighbours.”

“Miners and other resource industries aren’t just ATMs for everyone else to draw from without that money having first to be earned, and before that, giant investments made,” Mrs Rinehart said. A video of this historic address can be found here.

The tax changes proposed in Monday night’s Federal Budget have been widely condemned by Australia’s resources sector. WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy Chief Executive Reg Howard-Smith said changes would further hurt Australia’s competitiveness. “It makes no economic sense to place further barriers in front of the strongest industry in the country when the long run aim is increased revenues.”

Richmond, Northern Queensland, hosted a cattle industry crisis meeting last week attended by graziers from around the country and state and federal agriculture ministers. Graziers called on the government to buy 100,000 head of cattle from Northern farmers and donate them as aid – and a sign of goodwill – to Indonesia.

Graziers are still suffering from the live cattle export ban of 2011. With a decreased export market, recent drought conditions and a high Australian dollar, many Northern graziers are currently unable to feed or sell their cattle and have been forced to shoot them. With rural property values falling in Northern areas, Indonesian companies, including some state owned, have begun seriously investigating opportunities to purchase cattle stations in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Former Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson has thrown his support behind the use of floating LNG technology at Woodside Petroleum’s $43 billion Browse Basin project. Mr Ferguson’s support has coincided with the laying of the keel for the 600,000 tonne FLNG Vessel expected to be used at the project.

The rising costs that led to the cancellation of the Browse project are also threatening the $34 billion Inpex project off Northern WA. Documents recently obtained by the West Australian show the Maritime Union is pushing for penalty rates that could see a cook paid $230,000 a year at the project. Masahiro Murayama, Inpex’s Managing Executive Officer, said while “cost overruns and delays are always a possible risk with such a large project, I don’t think our project will be affected by the problems that Woodside had.”

If you’d like more information on our vision for a new North, please contact Dom Talimanidis at dtalimanidis@ipa.org.au or on 0412 178 264.

As always, please feel free to share your vision for a new North by emailing me at jroskam@ipa.org.au.