More needed on the policy front: Lynch

RIO Tinto chief financial officer Chris Lynch has acknowledged the positive progress made by the Abbott government in its first 12 months but says there is still more to be done.
More needed on the policy front: Lynch More needed on the policy front: Lynch More needed on the policy front: Lynch More needed on the policy front: Lynch More needed on the policy front: Lynch

Chris Lynch

Kristie Batten

Speaking at the IMARC gala dinner in Melbourne last night, Lynch said the government should be congratulated for abolishing the mining and carbon taxes, inking free trade agreements and streamlining approvals processes.

“These are very welcome developments and the government should be applauded for moving quickly to restore Australia’s global standing,” he said.

“Of course, we all understand more is needed. The unprecedented mining boom that has sustained income growth and minimised the impact of the global financial crisis, has also masked cracks in our economy and bred complacency in some policy circles about the need to address a persistent problem.”

Lynch said while the government understood the issues, there needed to be an open national conversation about competitiveness.

“We cannot simply stand still or others will quickly catch us. And let’s not forget Australia has everything to play for and we are the architects of our own destiny – just like the Swans or Hawks on Saturday,” he said.

“You have to be in the game to win it.”

Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb was also in attendance and Lynch described him as a pivotal player in economic reforms.

“In just the last 12 months, he has secured free trade agreements with Japan and South Korea and now just has to land the easiest of the lot: an FTA with our biggest trading partner China,” Lynch said.

“No pressure there, Minister. These FTAs are the perfect model of the long-run policies that will serve Australia well both now and into the future.”

Meanwhile, Robb used his speech to fiercely defend the coal industry.

“Coal serves as the bedrock for our electricity supply,” he said.

“Don’t let people demonise coal, don’t let them be the devil incarnate.

“The message is the same no matter what mineral or resource you want to talk about.

Robb said that while the government was on the right track to removing “restrictive and unnecessary burdens”, he urged lobby groups like the Minerals Council of Australia to keep the pressure on.

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