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Perhaps the most famous history of the Australian resources sector, written by Geoffrey Blainey, is titled “the rush that never ended”.1 Australia’s resources sector continues to boom. Since the mid-2000s, employment, production and tax revenues in and from the resources sector have all more than doubled, and wages have increased by approximately 48 per cent or 18 per cent in real terms.2,3 Australia’s resources sector—encompassing mining, oil and gas development, mining services and the people and communities around them—has never been more important to our economic wealth and prosperity than it is today.

However, there is no guarantee that our resources sector will maintain this record. We have got to where we are, in large part, through consistent and progressive policy settings that have attracted investment and supported employment. The opportunity to grow our resources sector remains but so does the challenge to continue the open and supportive policy settings that have helped the sector grow.

That is why the Australian Government is publishing the first National Resources Statement for two decades. Last year, the government commissioned the Resources 2030 Taskforce, chaired by Mr Andrew Cripps, a former Queensland Minister for Natural Resources and Mines. He was supported by experts from business, academia and local government. Their report showcases Australia’s recognised strengths, the opportunities on offer, as well as the challenges we must meet if we are to stay number one. This statement builds on their recommendations informed by widespread consultation.

In particular, it responds to the need identified in the taskforce report to maintain our investment attractiveness and competitiveness against emerging competitors, replenish our Tier One resources base for future generations, and ensure local skills, community acceptance and sound regulatory frameworks exist to operationalise new projects. Getting these right will allow Australia to better capitalise on global market opportunities as they arise.

This statement sets out a vision to have the world’s most advanced, innovative and successful resources sector that delivers sustained prosperity and social development for all Australians. It is a challenging goal but an achievable one given our proud history in resources and the significant future opportunities before us.

To stay at the top of your game is challenging, and to do so we must continue to improve and adapt. We need to ensure that the sector operates in a globally competitive business environment and better promote our abilities to the world. We need to better leverage our world-class scientific and research capabilities to develop the new knowledge, processes and technologies that will lead to finding new resources and develop the new industries of tomorrow.

Of most importance, this is a sector about people and communities. The resources sector must continue to deliver secure employment and opportunities for its people and the communities it operates in, while putting safety and environmental stewardship at the heart of what it does.

To achieve these results the government will prioritise five key goals that will form the centre of all of our efforts:

  1. Deliver the most globally attractive and competitive investment destination for resources projects.
  2. Develop new resources, industries and markets.
  3. Invest in new technologies and approaches, especially to deliver better environmental outcomes.
  4. Create well paid, secure jobs.
  5. Support communities to ensure they receive benefits from the development of Australian resources.

This statement provides an initial set of actions to achieve these goals. Success will only be secured if governments, business and scientists all work together. The Australian Government will work closely with state and territory governments, industry and our scientific and educational institutions to deliver results. It will endeavour to lead at the national level to drive key reforms.

Our resources sector, and the people that rely on it, have an almost boundless future if we get this right. This statement is an important first step in that direction and the government will work with all those who want success to lay the foundation for new jobs, regional and social development that will benefit all Australians for decades to come.

 

February 2019

Senator the Hon Matthew Canavan,
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia

 

Footnotes:

  • 1 Geoffrey Blainey (2003) The Rush That Never Ended – A History of Australian Mining. Melbourne University Press, Melbourne Australia.
  • 2 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2018) Wage Price Index, Australia—September 2018, Table 9A: Mining wage Index private and public, ordinary hourly rates, Cat. No. 6345.0. Australian Government, Canberra.
  • 3 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2018) Consumer Price Index, Australia—September 2018, Tables 1 & 2: CPI: All Groups, Index Numbers and Percentage Changes, Cat. No. 6401.0. Australian Government, Canberra.