Mining boom benefits for few, report
Updated: 13:27, Sunday June 17, 2012
The benefits of the mining boom have been concentrated in one state, with all others seeing only a marginal impact or none at all, a major new report says.
The research conducted for the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) suggests the nation has mostly squandered the advantages because the upsurge in resources sector activity effectively crowded out other industries.
‘Western Australia and its regions are clear winners from the boom, along with some of the regions in Queensland and New South Wales,’ the 2012/13 state of the regions report found.
‘However, the crowding out of activity from the expansion has clearly had a negative impact in other states and regions.’
The 151-page report was released on Sunday ahead of the start of the ALGA’s annual national general assembly in Canberra and appears to support the federal government’s claim the benefits of the boom are not being felt by most Australians.
Unlike Norway, which set up a sovereign wealth fund to invest excess proceeds from its massive petroleum reserves and uses some of the capital gains for government projects, Australia had failed to extract the most out of its boom.
‘Norway adopted a comprehensive planning process to maximise the long-run benefits of its resource expansion and endowed this process with resources sufficient to make a difference,’ the report said.
‘Australia did not and still has not.’
The report proposes a commission of inquiry be set up to examine the inequality across Australian regions exacerbated by the mining boom and how it could be addressed.
‘We would have a catalyst to start the process for a productive redesign of regional planning in Australia,’ report co-author Dr Peter Brain said in a statement.
ALGA president Genia McCaffery said regional development increased jobs, wages and productivity.
‘Local governments need to be involved in decisions concerning Commonwealth investment in regional infrastructure and development,’ she said.