Article by Lanai Scarr courtesy of the West Australian
The mining sector could see the creation of more than 32,000 jobs within five years if the Morrison Government commits to cutting red tape, reducing corporate taxes and making foreign investment conditions more amenable, according to the peak body representing the resources sector.
The West Australian can reveal the Minerals Council of Australia will say in its pre-budget submission today that there is “significant opportunity” for more jobs across mining regions with the right productivity enhancing policies in place.
A sample of 106 mining projects with feasibility studies suggests $50 billion in investment would flow over five years under the perfect conditions, creating more than 32,000 construction jobs and 22,000 ongoing operating jobs across Australia.
Reforms that expand trade and investment opportunities, enhance training and skills, ensure a competitive taxation system, support the discovery of new mining regions and emerging critical minerals, target the development of Northern Australia and enable businesses to adapt and grow will all be essential to sustaining the livelihoods and living standards of Australians, according to the submission.
It warns Australia to not take for granted foreign investment and calls on the Morrison Government to “consider implementing a single process for assessing international investments into Australia against a clear set of criteria that balances the government’s objectives of attracting international capital, expanding local projects and operations and protecting sovereignty and national security”.
“Australia cannot take its global leadership in mining and minerals processing for granted. Overseas competition will continue to intensify and inconsistent border restrictions imposed by some states and regulatory constraints domestically may endanger the nation’s ability to attract international investment,” the submission states.
The submission also calls on a reforming of Australia’s business tax system by reducing the headline company tax rate or introducing accelerated depreciation and retaining the fuel tax credit scheme in its current form.
An overhaul of workplace relations and fast-tracking technological innovation in mining, mining equipment, technology and services and low emissions energy would also assist in the creation of jobs.
Minerals Council CEO Tania Constable said while there was potential for 32,000 jobs, all may not eventuate.
“What is important here is that we give every project its best chance,” she told The West Australian.
“The path to more mining jobs in the future is for more mines to open … every mining job created is another job for an Australian. With the right mix of productivity enhancing reforms the mining industry can do even more.”
The Government’s powerful Expenditure Review Committee is meeting more frequently in the lead up to the October 6 Federal Budget and is considering submissions from a variety of key interest groups.
The Budget is normally held in May but got delayed due to the evolving coronavirus crisis.
It will be the last Federal Budget for long-standing Finance Minister – and West Australian – Mathias Cormann before he retires at the end of the year.
It’s widely rumoured he will join peak global economic body the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Australia’s official unemployment rate sits at 7.5 per cent with Treasury forecasts today suggesting effective unemployment was at 9.9 per cent, when the support of the JobKeeper wage subsidy is factored out.
WA has the second highest unemployment rate in the country at 8.3 per cent.
Treasury estimates the official unemployment rate will rise to 10 per cent before the end of the year due to the COVID economic slowdown.