5 August 2013: Capturing long-term coal growth must be election focus
The Australian coal industry - Australia's second largest export sector - is calling for strong policies during this election campaign to set Australia on course for the next stage of the resources growth cycle.
Dr Nikki Williams, CEO of the Australian Coal Association (ACA), said, "This is a critical time for the coal industry. We hear daily warnings from industry CEOs about declining profits and value in the resource sector, with the prospect of even tougher times ahead.
"Currently Australian coal producers have the highest cost base in the world with burdensome taxes and a sloth-like, cumbersome and costly regulatory system. Labyrinthine regulations are continuing to stymie economic growth: causing project delays, putting investment at risk and, worst of all, utterly failing to deliver better environmental or social outcomes.
"Around 11,000 jobs have been shed from the industry in the last 12-odd months and yet we have seen nothing from Government to indicate it is remotely concerned about the lives of these workers and their families and have not heard a word about its plans to secure those jobs for the future.
"Given the importance of the coal industry to Australia, workers in NSW and Queensland should be given confidence about their jobs in the rural and regional communities in which they live. However, if the current complacency persists, coal mining jobs will continue to be lost to competitor countries such as Indonesia, the United States, Colombia and Mongolia, which are shifting their coal production into our export markets.
“It is simply not good enough to state that the mining boom is over and that Government will now focus on other industries to generate jobs and economic wealth. The Government cannot wash its hands of the industry, because long-term growth opportunities still exist for the coal industry as we transition into the next stage of the commodities cycle. The industrial transformation of developing countries in Asia, particularly China and India, will continue over the long term and with the broader coal economy contributing $60 billion to Australia, we can't just let future growth opportunities be lost.
"Our political leaders must assume responsibility for developing and implementing practical policies that provide efficiency, certainty, productivity and improved competitiveness for coal in order both to protect high value coal mining jobs, ensure a viable services support sector and economic growth for the future."
The policy priorities for a strong coal industry and a strong Australian economy are:
1. Taxation: Australia must have stable and competitive taxation arrangements to provide confidence to international investors and underpin future economic growth. The Fuel Tax Credit Scheme must continue as a bipartisan and longstanding arrangement for the long term.
2. Carbon policy: A future carbon framework must place Australia on the same footing as that of our competitors. The taxing of greenhouse gas emissions from coal mining - which is imposed here but on no other coal-exporting country in the world - must end.
3. Environment: Environmental regulations for assessing and approving projects must be streamlined to reduce costly delays and improve the efficiency of state and commonwealth processes.
4. Energy: Policy settings should treat technologies for carbon abatement of coal as part of a suite of low emissions technologies for the future. The Renewable Energy Target (RET) is distorting the market and must be phased out.