Western Sydney the heart of the mining industry

October 31, 2013

This opinion piece originally appeared in the Daily Telegraph.

There are no mining helmets; no tunnels transporting workers deep underground; no machines cutting through seams of rock and minerals. There are no resources being taken out of the ground at all.
And yet western Sydney suburbs like Fairfield, Auburn and Parramatta are at the heart of the mining industry in NSW. In fact Sydney is the second largest mining region in NSW after the Hunter Valley in terms of mining industry spending.

Most people don't realise businesses, workers and their families across Sydney reap more than $3 billion a year through direct engagement with NSW mining.

A recent economic survey of 26 mining and exploration companies operating in NSW shows that in the past financial year these companies directly spent $12.8 billion on salaries, goods and services in NSW. Businesses across western Sydney received around half of this, sharing about $1.6 billion of purchases on goods and services from mining companies.

Fairfield businesses received more than $500 million in mining spending, Parramatta $376 million, Auburn $170 million and Bankstown $77 million.

These are some of the suburbs of western Sydney, where manufacturing, mechanical and other suppliers in industrial and retail businesses are providing services and equipment for distant mining operations, and providing many Sydney jobs.

Good government policies can foster opportunities for mining in NSW including an efficient regulatory system, an uncomplicated and timely approval process, adequate public infrastructure investment and a competitive tax regime.

If we want NSW mining to continue to drive economic activity in this state, the NSW planning system must be fixed to provide certainty and stability for the future. The carbon tax and the mining tax must go. Excluding these job-destroying taxes, mining still pays an effective tax rate of at least 41 per cent, so we are paying our way.

Higher tax rates will make us less competitive, putting investment and jobs at risk.

The NSW government should also commit to an industry action plan for mining. Here in NSW we have industry action plans for professional services, manufacturing, education and research, the visitor economy, the digital economy and the creative industries.

These are all important industries but, given its importance, mining should also have an action plan. This would be recognition of the strategic economic benefit of mining for the NSW economy, including for jobs, investment, trade, infrastructure, regional development, and energy supply. It would also link the need for a strong NSW mining industry to the government's own economic objectives.

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