Streamlining project approvals and modernising workplaces

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has claimed in a recent government submission that Australian mining reform has stalled, particularly in terms of streamlining project approvals and modernising workplace relations.

The MCA submission was sent to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics, which is running an inquiry regarding impediments to business investment in Australia.

The MCA reaffirmed its belief that the country should join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11), the successor to the aborted Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

It also states that Australia should reduce its corporate tax rate, referred to by the MCA as “internationally uncompetitive”, streamline state and federal approval processes regarding environmental protection and reduce energy costs, among several other recommendations.

Regarding the modernisation of workplace relations, the MCA pointed to ways in which the current Fair Work Act could be improved, broadly supporting the views of a 2015 Productivity Commission report on the matter.

The MCA stressed that the value of Australia’s resources exports were greater than all of the country’s other industries put together (particularly iron ore and coal, contributing $63 billion and $57 billion of Australia’s $207 billion export market), and that as “a global leader in technological innovation and one of the most productive industries in the world”, the sector could afford to pay its high wages, 60 per cent above the national average.

“Australia’s world-class mining companies could perform at their best – generating additional benefits for the economy, the workforce and society – if policy reform was initiated in a number of important areas,”  explained MCA interim chief executive David Byers in a statement.

“For example, the Productivity Commission estimated in August 2017 that adopting its 2013 proposals to make major project assessment processes more efficient would reduce project delays and save the economy approximately $240 million.

“The commission also estimated that implementing its 2015 recommendations for workplace relations reform would add $850 million a year to the Australian economy.”

The full report can be read here.