Martin Ferguson calls for resource policy shake-up

Former Federal resources minister Martin Ferguson warned Australia risks losing out on investment dollars if policy changes are not made.

Ferguson, who is the chairman of the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association, a senior executive at Seven Group Holdings, and on the board at BG Group, made the comments in his closing address at the APPEA conference.

Ferguson warned poor policy settings is the road to “mediocrity and decline” for Australia.

In particular the former union heavyweight said industrial relations laws needed an overhaul.

He also wants to see less clout given to the voices of anti-mining activists.

"The clock is ticking,” Ferguson warned.

"In an era of uncertainty, the best thing that government can do is to provide stability.

"To remove unnecessary inefficiencies, to curb regulatory risks and costs, to develop a regulatory climate that fosters optimism and a can-do attitude.

"The worst thing it can do is to pander to sectional interests and scaremongers with anti-development agendas.”

"Look at the temptations before our governments. Continuing the entrenchment of adversarial industrial relations.

"One unnecessary hydraulic fracturing review after another while ignoring decades of evidence that this is a safe technology.

"Restricting access to resources – not on the basis of scientific evidence but in response to fear campaigns.

"Gas reservation, which is supposed to enhance energy security and push down gas prices. But reservation has repeatedly failed to work in the real world, simply because it discourages the investment needed to bring on new gas supplies.

"This is exactly the agenda that some politicians want us to follow."

Ferguson called on political leaders to help create confidence and grasp opportunities as they arise.

"The entrepreneurial spirit that led to the successful discovery and development of our major oil and gas provinces reminds us of what we can achieve,” he said.

"We desperately need a higher standard of public debate to ensure that our industry can play its full part in delivering a further, sustainable lift in Australia’s prosperity.

In April last year, Ferguson also spoke out about the need for IR reform, urging the ALP to support the move.

'High labour costs and low productivity are an unsustainable mix,'' Ferguson said at the time.

''And therefore elements of the Fair Work Act must be looked at.''

Ferguson called the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) a "job-killing" and "rogue" union and said unless excessive demands were reduced, more Australian jobs would go offshore.

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