Minister vows help for struggling miners
Wednesday, 28th May, 2014
By Erica Visser
The Abbott Government will do everything in its power to restore the faith of overseas investors in the Australian mining industry, according to the Federal Resources and Energy Minister.
The minister, Ian Macfarlane, briefly touched down at Broken Hill yesterday morning to address hundreds of investors at the 2014 Resources and Investment Symposium, before jetting back to Canberra in time for Question Time.
Mr Macfarlane’s presentation was very well-received by his audience, which had all struggled through a recent and lengthy “slump” in the resources sector.
“It is an industry which, these days, is constantly under attack for no real reason.”
But Mr Macfarlane said the Abbott Government would remove the barriers created against the industry by the previous Labor government; including the carbon and mining taxes.
“It really is a tale of two cities. The Labor government saw the resource industry as something to be plundered, something to be taxed,” Mr Macfarlane told investors.
“It did its best to stifle this industry with red tape and green tape.
“I come from a farming background so I’m prepared to say what I think and think what I say.
“...The mining tax and the signal that it’s sent overseas investors was destructive. So we’ll get rid of the mining tax and the carbon tax, which has stifled the industry.”
Mr Macfarlane also vowed to cut back excessive regulation and therefore approval times for new projects.
He said that environmental approval took up to 4.5 years in NSW, but just 12 months for projects in South Australia and 10 months in New Zealand.
“The best thing we can do is make sure that we as a government stay out of your way,” Mr Macfarlane said.
“We need to make sure the government is helping you, not hindering you.
“We do find there’s much debate at the moment about what direction and what future Australia has.
“The resources industry is critical to our future. Both Tony Abbott and I have said, on different occasions, we want Australia to be proud of its resources industry.”
An audience member asked Mr Macfarlane how he could ensure investors became aware that Australia was no longer “under attack” by a government.
“Bad news travels fast. In Opposition we were aware of how quickly the attitude of the Labor government had spread overseas,” Mr Macfarlane responded.
“The Canadian prime minister had great delight in telling me he thought Australia was crazy, ‘Why would you attack your own industry?’
“(Minister for Trade and Investment) Andrew Robb is doing an extraordinary job getting out there and saying that Australia is open for business again.”