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the Benefits of the Resources Boom Sub-Committee” Sub Committee of the Economic, Productivity, Innovation and Industry Caucus Committee
Caucus acknowledges that from time to time there will be a need to supplement Australian labour on resource construction projects under specific and strict conditions. Notwithstanding this, Caucus notes the social, fiscal and political challenges arising from the resources boom. In particular, the high Australian dollar and the pressures on non-resource industries including manufacturing, retail, tourism and small business. Caucus is strongly of the view that it is in the national interest to maintain and promote employment across Australia’s entire industry base. This can only be achieved by spreading the wealth from the profits of the resources sector across the whole community. Social justice and inclusion requires a broad based and strong economy. This requires a sophisticated economic and industry development strategy that ensures the resources industry complements as distinct from displaces existing industry sectors. The resources boom has been and will continue to be a big positive for Australia, both in terms of increasing incomes and creating jobs. It has also brought significant pressure to bear on other parts of the economy, including through factors like exchange rate pressure and competition for skilled labour. The potential crowding out of key industries by the resource sector requires a more considered and strategic analysis and response in order to ensure that all Australians share in the wealth of the nation. In the short term, the capacity to spread the wealth of the mining boom requires continual monitoring of the effectiveness of taxation arrangements along with a number of practical industry development initiatives. Caucus notes the issues surrounding the recent announcement to bring in 1700 semiskilled overseas workers for the Roy Hill Mine in Western Australia. As the PM has said, the priority for employment in the resources sector must continue to be those Australians willing and capable of employment in the mining industry. Caucus is strongly of the view that there must be an increased focus on Australian Industry Participation Plans designed to spread the wealth of the industry by maximising opportunities for Australian industry, for example the engineering and steel fabrication industries. Caucus notes the importance of a coherent approach across portfolios to ensure the opportunities and benefits of the mining boom are spread across our patchwork economy. In this context, Caucus believes that Ministries should continue to communicate with each other and should consult caucus on matters relating to the resources boom. Increased and improved engagement with the Caucus on matters of economic and social importance is essential and a new Caucus sub-committee will be established to overview and implement the stated intention of spreading the benefits of the boom across the whole economy.
The “Spreading the Benefits of the Resources Boom Committee” will address a range of issues, including but not limited to: 1. The mandatory and effective implementation and operation of the Jobs Board by DEEWR and DIAC with regular reports to caucus on its operation and effectiveness; 2. The development of transparent Australian Industry Participation Plans that provide significant opportunities for local industry particularly in the engineering and steel fabrication sectors; 3. The granting of and operation of Enterprise Migration Agreements with particular attention to ensuring that they are not used to reduce going rates, working conditions and/or health and safety standards in the industry including independent assessment of standards by Trades Recognition Australia for trade and semi-skilled workers; 4. Improved and effective monitoring of Enterprise Migration Agreements including the compliance with terms of the EMA as well as Australian workplace relations law and minimum standards including the Fair Work Act, occupational health and safety legislation, protections for freedom of association and effective provisions relating to right of entry. 5. The details of fly in/fly out conditions for workers; 6. Considering any steps necessary for Australia to ratify ILO Convention 97 – Migration for Employment and ILO Convention 143 – Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions), and the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (“the Migrant Workers Convention”) 2003; 7. Processes to ensure that criminal elements do not exploit overseas workers engaged on Australian resource projects within Australia or at the country of origin; 8. The effectiveness of taxation arrangements; 9. The effects of unprecedented resource industry investment on the economic and social development of non-resource sector regions; 10. Maximising employment opportunities for Australians including indigenous workers, young people, mature age and workers with a disability, the long term unemployed and ensuring employer assistance with skills training, skills upgrading, travel and accommodation; 11. Longer term approaches to the regional development benefits of the resources sector including government policies and industry actions designed to improve the quality of life of workers engaged in the resources sector and who live locally; 12. Cross portfolio monitoring. Ministers will be required to give regular reports to the committee and provide practical assistance to the committee if and when required.
Moved – Senator Doug Cameron Seconded – Kelvin Thomson MP