Dr Nikki Williams, Chief Executive, NSW Minerals CouncilOpening Plenary, NSWMC Environment & Community Conference“Changing Times: Take the Lead”Wollongong, October 24, 2011
The Hon Robyn Parker, Minister for the Environment and Minister forHeritage, Greg Sullivan, Deputy CEO, OEH, Brad Mullard Executive DirectorDTI, Mick Buffier Chairman of the Executive Committee, DistinguishedGuests, Ladies and Gentlemen - Good morning and welcome to our 2011Environment and Community Conference.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us,we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way…”
So begins the famous book,
A Tale of Two Cities
. It might just as easilydescribe the great contradictions that currently characterize how Australiafeels about its mining industry.We’re the darlings of the business pages, yet we’re painted as demons in theearly general news. We help Treasurers keep budgets healthy and giveAustralia the strength to stave off the threat of recession, yet our industry is alightning rod for the most adversarial of political debates.We’re in the midst of one of the longest and strongest mining booms in ournation’s history. Yet we face multiple policy, regulatory and legislativechallenges that might collectively render our sector a less attractivedestination for international investment than countries such as Indonesia,Colombia or even Mongolia.We find ourselves central to the most divisive political debates in our nation’shistory. Whether it’s the carbon tax, the mining tax, the so called ‘two-speed’