Speech – AMEC AWARDS DINNER – by Mrs Gina Rinehart

AMEC AWARDS DINNER – Wednesday 5 September 2012

Many years ago my father, Lang Hancock, actively encouraged the formation of AMEC.  He knew that Australia needed a voice, an organisation to stand up for our industry, promote our interests and assist our industry, an industry greatly important for our State and country and its welfare.

We need people, and we have some who are prepared to be unpopular, or very unpopular, in some areas of our media.  We need people who are willing to be leaders, despite the detractors.  To say things that should be heard, not avoided, in the interests of our industry and country.  This is a country currently in record debt; its debt is growing every day, its future fund has gone, so has its infrastructure fund, its critical investment pipeline is under review, with not all projects going ahead, companies have already announced shelving or delaying projects, of which BHP/B is not the only company, while our greenfield exploration continues to decline and investment in exploration and projects go offshore to more cost competitive and welcoming countries.

We can bury our heads in the sand and pretend this critical investment pipeline is secure, and attack those who explore and invest and risk, but we can’t rationally expect to address the decline in exploration and the investment pipeline unless we introduce policies to make investment in Australian projects and exploration welcome and enable them to be cost competitive internationally, and improve the approval risks.

If we continue on this path making exploration and investment too difficult or unwelcome in Australia, risking our critical investment pipeline, we will continue to see exploration and projects head to competing lower costs countries.  We have never faced before the competitive risk we now face from lower cost countries with vast resources.  We cannot afford to ignore that they have vast resources.  Will these lower cost countries pay West Australia royalties?  Of course not.  Will these countries offer EMA’s for our unskilled or semi-skilled to find work off shore?  No.  Will they help our Aborigines with payments and benefits and opportunities?  No.  Will they provide work for our local industries supporting our mining industry?  Not to the extent of now, if future mines and infrastructure are instead located offshore.  What is happening in Australia now is seriously affecting our future, the future of young Australians, and the ability to provide for our increasingly elderly population.  Does this need to be better understood?  Does it need to be better understood that tenement applications are only that, they don’t magically transform into mines and infrastructure, millions or hundreds of millions need to be invested into exploration and studies and approvals, before an investment decision to proceed with mine and infrastructure can occur.

Does it need to be better understood that our mining industry provides revenue to enable better schools and hospitals, defence, police, aged and disabled care, and that this investment pipeline is critical to our debt ridden country’s future?

On the 60th year of my father’s initial discovery of part of the Pilbara iron ore province, a province whose development has enabled employment and exploration for many, helped to build schools and hospitals, parks, and more, it is with great pleasure I confirm the commencement of the “Hancock Prospecting Annual Awards” for those who are prepared to stand up for our industry, assist our industry and promote it and work towards a far better understanding.  Now lest you think, well with what I have been through, who would want to even win this award!  I will let you in on a secret in response to, the worse the far left or simply not understanding media attack, the more lovely emails and comments arrive, that such common-sense comments are welcome and needed and that the majority are behind you, don’t listen to the media, even, you are loved by Australians who think and produce! etc.  So I hope that there will be some brave souls who want to win this Hancock Prospecting award!  It commences with a $50,000 pa donation, $30,000 of which is to be used standing up for our industry, and the rest as the winner would wish.  I hope this helps to encourage brave souls who love our country and who recognise that the mining industry in Australia with its related industries is important for our future.