Mining has majority’s support: poll

A Newspoll has shown 96 per cent of Australians believe the mining industry plays a vital role in the economy and 69 per cent view it positively.

The poll, done specifically for The Australian, revealed there is more support among men at 74 per cent, as opposed to 65 per cent of women, while 31 per cent of men had a ‘very’ positive view of the industry, as opposed to 17 per cent of women.

Only two per cent thought the industry did not play a significant role to the nation’s economy, while 23 per cent had a negative view.

A total of 1202 people were surveyed as part of The Australian’s Path to Prosperity series, along with GE.

The survey was done before last week’s federal budget.

Nimrod Resources chairman and former Queensland Labor treasurer Keith De Lacy said attempts to portray the resources industry as the enemy had not worked and such tactics were ‘not only bad public policy but is also bad politics’.

“I think every person understands that the resources industry is vital to our economic wellbeing and ultimately everybody benefits from a successful resources sector in terms of income, jobs and government revenue,” De Lacy said.

Anglo American Australia chairman Graham Bradley said the community understood ‘what business know, and that is mining underpins Australia’s prosperity and has been an enormous benefit to our most disadvantaged citizens, including indigenous Australians”.

The poll comes at a time when the mining industry is unhappy with budget decisions, which they feel affects them directly. This includes unions claiming wealth from the mining boom is not being distributed evenly.

Budget changes include changes to exploration deductions and a clamp down on multinationals.

Another survey of senior executives by Hall and Partners revealed the biggest obstacle in the industry was government bureaucracy, intrusion and policy.

The survey found 41 per cent said government was the biggest obstacle, while 40 per cent said lack of foreign and local investment was hurting the sector.

A further 55 per cent of managers said bureaucracy around government regulations and laws was a bigger obstacle to growth of the company rather than green-tape measures relating to the environment.

In relation to the minerals resource rent tax, 86 per cent of managers viewed it negatively, saying it had made Australia less attractive for resource investment. A further 78 per cent believed the MRRT failed to benefit all Australians.

The federal government cut or delayed millions of dollars in funding for the mining industry in the budget, a strategy widely criticised by the sector.

The measures come as revenue forecasts from the Minerals Resource Rent Tax were downgraded from $2 billion in 2013-14 to just $200 million.

Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Mitch Hooke said the findings show Australia’s ability to draw business was declining due to increasing costs, decreasing productivity and a rise in regulation and taxes.

“With commodity prices having fallen from peak levels, complacency about the mining sector, emerging protectionist sentiment and backsliding on economic reform pose a real threat to the minerals industry and wider economy,” Hooke said.

“Governments have got to stop throwing sand in the wheels of the minerals industry.”

Hooke added there needs to be a move away from the mentality of ‘spreading the bounty of the mining boom’ to finding ways to continue growing the industry.

Chairman of uranium miner Paladin Energy Rick Crabb said the sector weanted government to ‘promise to leave us alone’ and increase research and development.

“Just let us get on with it. We are dealing with projects that rely on a long investment cycle,” Crabb said.