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Mining delivers budget lift

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The contribution to the federal budget from mining is extraordinary and highlights once more the importance of mining investment to the Australian economy.

In the last 20 years, employment in mining has tripled and wages doubled, benefiting hundreds of thousands of Australians, especially in regional areas.

But the government’s plan to fundamentally realign Australia’s workplace relations system from enterprise bargaining to multi-employer bargaining will undermine efforts by both the government and the Reserve Bank to stabilise the economy. Multi-employer bargaining will expose mining to levels of industrial disruption and wage inflation not seen since the 1980s.

It is clear from the economic outlook presented by the Treasurer in handing down the budget that the government must embark on the productivity reforms needed to secure the nation’s economic future, including attracting a large slice of the $4 trillion of mining investment required to transform the world to net-zero emissions by 2050.

It is increased productivity that will drive business growth and with the right policies Australian mining can undergo another major expansion in investment.

However, to fully capture the economic potential of this opportunity, government policies must support investment in exploration, mining, minerals processing and mining-related manufacturing.

Measures such as the new programs for funding students at universities and in technical and further education, particularly those in regional Australia, are a good start.

As are government initiatives on critical materials such as funding the new research and development hub and other development programs.

Australia needs policy settings that deliver internationally competitive company taxes, practical and beneficial workplace relations rules, an efficient transformation to net-zero emissions that provides reliable and competitively priced energy, and efficient and effective regulation and approvals processes.

The budget shows the value of the large expansion in mining investment that began in the early 2000s which has provided more than $143 billion in company taxes over the last decade.

Internationally competitive and stable investment settings are essential to attracting large-scale investment in mining that will ultimately benefit all businesses, workers, and households, and other economies around the world.

Tania Constable

CEO, Minerals Council of Australia

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