MCA chief executive Mitchell Hooke said the Government recognised that the minerals industry’s $73 billion investment in production and related infrastructure capacity must be complemented by increased public investment in building human, technological and institutional capacity.
“In striving to meet increasing global demand, the industry faces the absolute limits of supply capacity – in export corridors, human resources and skills shortages, regulatory systems governing land access and use, social and physical infrastructure in regional communities, and the operability of the native title system,” Hooke said.
He said it was a disappointment that there is no provision for additional resourcing of the native title system, which is vital in building mutually beneficial partnerships between Indigenous communities and industry, for employment and enterprise development and building sustainable Indigenous communities.
Hooke identified some of the highlights for the minerals industry:
- $19.1 billion over the five years of 2009 to 2014 under the AusLink Program will improve national road and rail transport corridors vital to interstate and international trade;
- A $3.5 billion education and training package and $5 billion this year to establish the Higher Education Endowment Fund will add significant capacity to Australia’s schools, vocational education and training including apprenticeships, and higher education and research capacity, of direct relevance to the minerals industry;
- The provision of $85.3 million over four years to improve the effectiveness and integrity of the temporary skilled migration visa category (457 visas), together with an increase of a further 5000 places to a total of 102,500 for skilled migration, will assist the industry meet acute skills shortages;
- A $10 billion commitment for a National Plan for Water Security and a further $120 million funding for the implementation of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act will assist the industry in the management of Australia’s natural resources;
- Additional funding to upgrade social infrastructure and services in rural and remote Australia; and
- $229 million over four to five years for a new Centre for Climate Change Adaptation and the CSIRO Flagship for climate adaptation and energy research, which will add a much needed dimension to Australia’s climate change management platform.