Union report finds Australians shortchanged by mining boom

Image credit: Free Digital Photos user wandee007

A new research commissioned by the Construction, Foresty, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has found that the mining boom has failed to deliver the long-term economic benefits Australians deserve.

Image credit: Free Digital Photos user wandee007
Image credit: Free Digital Photos user wandee007

According to a media release from the mining union, the research entitled The Australian Resources Boom: Sharing the Benefits conducted by SGS Economics and Planning shows that record mining company profits have far outstripped growth in resource taxes and royalties.

The report finds that the share of industry income going to workers has fallen to 20%, down from 30% in 1990 and mining industry cash flow after operating costs nearly doubled between 2006-07 and 2011-12.

Mining communities are also lagging behind in social infrastructure and services, worsened by the increase in fly-in fly-out commuter workforces.

The mining industry itself has not contributed to the growth of other sectors in the economy such as manufacturing, and the royalty and tax regime covering mining is archaic, complex and inefficient.

The report also says a sovereign wealth fund could use proceeds from resources development to invest in long-term projects in the national interest.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Division General Secretary Andrew Vickers said Australia cannot keep on “squandering the opportunity” to deliver real benefits to the people from the finite mineral resources that are meant for everyone.

“We need to do better. We’ve just experienced an investment boom of the like we’ve never seen before and we’re in the middle of a production boom with many years to go,” said Mr. Vickers.

“We need a federal government willing to stand up to self-interested mining companies and manage this resources boom in a fair and sustainable way.”

“The Minerals Resources Rent tax could have been better constructed, but it is a first step towards addressing this challenge. We shouldn’t dump the MRRT, we should build on it for the long term.”

Speaking to ABC News’ Sue Lannin, Mr. Vickers put the blame on governments that are being bullied by major multinational mining corporations.

“The major benefits of the boom have gone to corporations and the shareholders and that’s clear from the report which we’ve commissioned. And Australia as a country and Australians in general have not benefited from the boom to the extent that they should have,” Mr. Vickers.

“All that we’re saying and what the report confirms is that we could have done as a nation much, much better than what we have done.”