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Policy leadership will re-energise resource industry: AREEA chief tells Summit

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29 May 2014

PROLONGING the prosperity of Australia’s resource sector and the jobs and national income it provides, requires strong political leadership and a more globally competitive policy framework, chief executive of national resource industry employer group AREEA Steve Knott will tell a major resources summit this morning.

Mr Knott will deliver his opening address to more than 300 resource industry professionals in Perth this week for AREEA’s significant annual event – the 2014 Australian Resource People Summit.

“Our sector is one of the most globally engaged Australian industries, but we are also among the most heavily exposed to increasing global competitive pressures,” Mr Knott will say.

“Across recent years a raft of poorly executed economic and taxation policies, as well as an inflexible, unproductive and combative workplace relations system, have seen our country lose much of its attractiveness in the competition for global project investment.”

AREEA’s Summit comes as a number of important legislative amendments impacting resource employers, including changes to workplace relations laws, are set for debate in the Senate.

Despite the industry’s challenges, Mr Knott will tell resource employers that a return to constructive and competitive policy making can prolong Australia’s record period of resource industry investment and project development.

“We still have more than $200 billion worth of project investment committed for our country, and about $208 billion in uncommitted project investment slated for our shores,” he will say.

“The first step in improving our national competitiveness is doing all we can to ensure the new Senate passes key policies the Abbott Government was elected to implement, including reducing red tape and abolishing the carbon and mining taxes.

“Just as important is restoring some stability and practicality to Australia’s workplace laws.

“Enterprise will also need to play its part by pursuing efficiency and productivity gains and continuing to engage with global best practices and Australian-driven innovation.”

Introducing former Prime Minister John Howard to deliver the Summit’s keynote address, Mr Knott will note how Australia’s second longest-serving PM had ‘a knack for progressive, sound economic policy as well as the political convictions to follow through’.

“The Howard government’s management of our industry saw the resource sector’s gross value added rise 54 per cent – from $136.5 billion in 1996, to $202 billion in 2008. In the same period, direct employment in our industry grew from about 88,000 people to 161,000 people – an incredible increase of 83 per cent,” Mr Knott will say.

“It’s as if workplace reform in this country is stuck in a spin cycle in that to move forward towards a modern, competitive and productive system, we must first look backwards.

“If only we could get back to Mr Howard’s way of thinking outside the box on policy reform, we may just be able to reverse some of major challenges to our productivity and competitiveness that have emerged since he left office.”

MEDIA: For Steve Knott’s full speech or to attend the Summit, contact Tom Reid, AREEA Media Manager, 0419 153 407 or [email protected]. Click here for the full Summit program.

For a PDF of this release, click here.

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