Government backs down from iron ore inquiry

There will be no inquiry into Australia’ iron ore industry.

Treasurer Joe Hockey made the announcement yesterday afternoon following days of speculation about a possible parliamentary inquiry, a move pushed by FMG’s chairman Andrew Forrest.

"Over recent days, there has been some speculation about whether a parliamentary inquiry into the iron ore sector was necessary," Hockey said.

"After discussing the issue with regulatory bodies and stakeholders across the resources sector, the Government will not be initiating an inquiry at this time."

The announcement has triggered a backlash from Forrest, who is accusing lobbying from multinational mining companies like BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto for the government’s change of heart.

Last Friday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott was in favour of the inquiry.

“We do need to know the facts … what we don’t want to see is predator behaviour by any company,” Abbott told 2GB Radio.

Forrest is accusing the big miners of having too much influence on the government.

"We literally saw plane loads of lobbyists get flown in by the multinationals into Canberra and they never let up all week," he said during an interview with Nine's Karl Stefanovic on Friday.

"You shouldn't be allowed to totally manipulate governments, which is what I think has been done here.

"You saw the previous government flip, this government flip. The real question is do the multinationals have too much influence in this country and we should be allowed to ask the question."

Questions surrounding the actions of the major miners have been publicly pushed by FMG’s chairman and founder Andrew Forrest in recent weeks.

Forrest is blaming the majors for the bearish sentiment which has befallen the iron ore industry and went as far as to urge the public to “stand up” and ask if the multi-national miners have a social licence to operate.

Forrest claims the major miners have made a deliberate play to keep prices down by flooding the market and making statements about the future increases in production.

Senator Nick Xenophon was working with the government to establish an inquiry and says the government’s decision to not go ahead with the investigation was disturbing.

 Xenophon said the inquiry had been "killed off by a shock and ore [sic] campaign by key elements of the mining industry".

"The fact that the PM and the Treasurer were initially supportive of an inquiry by both houses of Parliament and have now backed away, is indicative, yet again, of the enormous and disproportionate power of the mining lobby," he said.

"The iron ore giants have now succeeded in censoring the Government and the Parliament from having an inquiry into issues that are clearly in the national interest," he said.

"You've got to ask, given this extraordinary turn of events: where does the real power lie in this country?"

The Minerals Council of Australia welcomed the government not proceeding with an inquiry.

“This is a good decision that will enable Australia’s iron ore sector to focus on the task of further strengthening its competitiveness in a fiercely contested global market,” Chief Executive Brendan Pearson said in a statement.

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