Tony Abbott: a new boost for mining?

The new Prime Minister of Australia, sworn in today, has pledged his government to abolish the country’s carbon tax, and within 100 days to introduce legislation to abolish the mining tax that has been blamed for damaging jobs and investment.

However the mining community can’t breathe easily quite yet. When Labor introduced the mining tax on 1 July 2012, it also extended onshore the petroleum tax and imposed the tax on Australia’s largest gas exporting facility the North West Shelf LNG project: that measure will be retained.

Mining interests large and small have been pressurising the new coalition government to ease the way for exploration, development and large-scale mining projects alike. Tony Abbott is for example under pressure to expedite the biggest coal mining expansion in Australian history, with Queensland Premier Campbell Newman telling the Prime Minister to ‘get out of the way’ in the Galilee Basin, where approval to construct of the world's biggest coal port in Queensland has been deferred until after the federal election. Abbott is on record as saying that one of the main priorities of his government is to ‘cut green tape’. That would be tackled by setting up a ‘one-stop shop’ for environmental approvals and devolving decision making to the states.

The new trade minister Andrew Robb has been given the job of revitalising Australia’s resources sector. “As of today, the mining boom will be rebooted,” Robb told Australian television on September 8 when the election results were declared. Robb says $150 billion worth of mining projects are up for grabs. “We can get Australia open for business; we will restore an appetite for risk and investment; people's jobs will grow massively.”