The Federal Government has a unique opportunity to implement pragmatic and targeted reforms – including lower taxes, faster project approvals, modern skills and flexible workplaces – so the minerals industry can play an even bigger role in underpinning Australia’s sustainable and enduring economic recovery from COVID-19.
The MCA has provided a range of policy and regulatory options to the Morrison Government which if adopted can help the Australian minerals industry maximise its contribution to Australia’s economic recovery.
Our world-leading minerals companies are hampered by regulatory duplication and overlap, while projects take too long to be approved – denying regional communities jobs and investment.
Expediting environmental assessments and approvals, reforming greenfields agreements and expanding incentives for exploration will also help realise and refresh the potential pipeline of new and expanding mining projects.
A potential mining investment pipeline of up to $100 billion of coal, iron ore, base metal, critical mineral and gold projects as well as tens of billions of spending to sustain the Australian mining industry cannot be taken for granted.
With other mining nations significantly hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic while Australian minerals companies continued to operate, Australia’s competitors will waste no time in attempting to increase their share of the recovery.
In this context, Australia’s company tax rate of 30 per cent is too high and not internationally competitive.
Future mining investment should not be put at risk by any move to increase the already high burden on the sector. In particular, the fuel tax credit scheme, which operates to avoid taxing a vital business input, should remain in its current form.
Skills and training needs will require a particular focus, including retraining and reskilling entrants from other industries affected by COVID-19. The minerals industry stands ready to accelerate 1,000 new apprenticeships through the Mining Skills Organisation Pilot.
The mining industry recognises the COVID-19 pandemic has placed pressure on workers’ relationships and mental health, reinforcing the importance of existing industry initiatives to preserve mental health, including the MCA’s leading Blueprint for Mental Health and Wellbeing Industry guide and MATES in Mining, an independent charity that offers help to workers who can be reluctant to seek it.
The government also has an opportunity to maximising gains from partnerships with Indigenous Australians by extending and accelerating the Prescribed Bodies Corporate capacity-building program to ensure Traditional Owners can realise the full economic development opportunities arising from native title.
The minerals sector has underpinned Australia’s economic prosperity for decades.
While world economic growth is expected to contract sharply in 2020, the industry’s ability to keep operating through the COVID-19 crisis has positioned it strongly to take advantage of the global recovery and the ongoing resources demand of developing economies.