Abbott Cabinet gets industry thumbs-up

INDUSTRY enthusiasm for Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott’s newly named Cabinet has been nearly unanimous, with resources-interest groups showing particularly strong support for the re-appointment of Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane.
Abbott Cabinet gets industry thumbs-up Abbott Cabinet gets industry thumbs-up Abbott Cabinet gets industry thumbs-up Abbott Cabinet gets industry thumbs-up Abbott Cabinet gets industry thumbs-up

Mining industry advocates have applauded the choices for the ministry as experienced in mining sector issues and poised to address a number of key campaign promises.

Increased support for resources exploration, reduction of business costs and the removal of carbon and mining taxes were flagged as major objectives.

Macfarlane's return as industry minister after having served in the post under former prime minister John Howard was cheered as an opportunity to restore Australia's international competitiveness in the mining sector.

The Australian Mines and Metals Association said Macfarlane's experience would match the new industry portfolio that includes responsibility for energy and resources.

"Macfarlane's appointment to a bolstered industry portfolio will support the resource sector's next phase of growth through strong policies to wind back red and green tape duplication and kick-start the struggling exploration market - the critical R&D of Australia's resources activities," AMMA chief executive Steve Knott said.

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia congratulated Macfarlane while welcoming the appointment of five ministers representing WA in the Cabinet.

"Ian Macfarlane has a strong understanding and knowledge of resource sector issues," CME chief executive Reg Howard-Smith said.

"His consultative and measured approach has always been welcomed by the Western Australian resources sector.

"A focus on reducing the cost of doing business and increasing exploration activity needs to be a priority for the government in order to enable the continued growth of the resources sector in Western Australia."

Meanwhile, Queensland Energy and Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle praised Macfarlane's appointment in the context of efforts to abolish the carbon pricing scheme.

"Macfarlane's experience in the previous Howard government will be vital as we move forward in Queensland with the biggest reforms to Queensland's electricity sector ever seen," he said.

"This is an opportunity for Canberra to listen to Queensland's needs and I am keen to ensure the Abbott-led government gets rid of the carbon tax once and for all."

Industry groups also highlighted the naming of Andrew Robb as Minister for Trade and Investment, Eric Abetz as Minster for Employment and Greg Hunt as Minister for Environment.

CME said Hunt and Robb would have a "clear mandate" to reduce the costly and duplicated processes that exist within government.

Streamlining of government processes has been regarded as a crucial step in setting up a "one-stop shop" for mining sector approvals.

Industry groups also flagged abolition of additional tax costs and compliance burdens targeting the resources sector such as the Minerals Resource Rent Tax, implementation of the proposed exploration development incentive and the establishment of an industry advisory council for resources and energy.

In further support for the federal government's frontbench, the AMMA shot down a report that trade unions were seeking to block certain workplace initiatives under the new ministry.

The AMMA said comments by Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Dave Oliver in The Australian were "completely absurd".

The ACTU reportedly said it would campaign aggressively to block elements of the Liberal policy agenda including the scrapping of the carbon tax, the restoration of the Australian Building and Construction Commission and new corruption regulation.

"Just as the Coalition respected Labor's mandate to abolish WorkChoices, both the ACTU and Labor need to respect the will of the people on the ABCC and better regulation of trade unions," Knott said.

"Any union committed to doing the right thing and acting lawfully and responsibly would have nothing to fear from such changes."

On Monday, Abbott issued an official statement outlining his ministry as a "back to basics" approach.

"This is the team that will scrap the carbon tax, end the waste, stop the boats, build the roads of the 21st century and deliver the strong and dynamic economy that we need," Abbott said.

"First-term governments are best served by cabinets with extensive ministerial experience.

"Fifteen members of the incoming Cabinet have previous ministerial experience."

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