PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Federal Resources Minister Keith Pitt has welcomed the Trade and Investment Growth Committee’s inquiry into the financial sector’s treatment of Australia’s export industries.
The Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth this week announced that it had started an inquiry into the prudential regulation of investment in Australia’s export industries.
The inquiry would investigate the potential impact on investment opportunities for Australian exporters of changes in practices by banks, insurers and superannuation funds, as well as the advice and guidance provided by financial regulators which affects the investment opportunities for Australian exporters.
“Exports from sectors such as agriculture, resources, and defence manufacturing generate billions of dollars for the Australian economy and attract a significant amount of investment. If there are changes in the financial services sector which impact on Australia’s exporting industries, particularly those in regional areas, the Parliament must take an interest,” said committee chairperson George Christensen.
“I am pleased the resources sector will be a key focus of this inquiry that will look into recent announcements by some banks and superannuation companies that they will withdraw investment support for the coal industry,” Pitt said.
“It is of great concern to me that a legitimate industry like coal mining, which makes a significant contribution to the national economy and employs thousands of Australians, is being held back by what can only be described as corporate activism.
“I’m not just talking about the big miners, but the 'Mum and Dad' small businesses who’ve told me they can’t access insurance or loans simply because they have some exposure to the coal industry,” Pitt said.
He pointed out that last year alone, the coal industry provided around A$5-billion in royalties to help governments fund the services and infrastructure Australians rely on.
“And despite what activists may say, it will continue to do so for many more years to come,” Pitt said.
“There are currently over 70 proposals for new coal mines, or expansion of existing ones, that are at various stages of planning and development.
“The number of Australians employed in coal mining increased by 22% in the three months to November to reach a nine-year high, and 264 000 people are employed across the whole resources sector, up nearly 10%.
“The new projects currently being planned can add thousands more jobs to that number.
“It is only fair that banks, superannuation companies and other financial institutions that are withdrawing investment in sections of the resources sector, explain to all those women and men why their jobs are not worth supporting,” Pitt said.
“Australians should know the approach and motivation of these institutions when it comes to supporting Australia’s export industries. I encourage all resources companies with an interest in this issue to make a submission to the inquiry, which is expected to begin hearings next month.”