Monday, July 23, 2012

End of Australia's Mining Boom Inevitable: Hockey

Opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey has described the federal government's forecast budget surplus as smoke and mirrors after a new report tipping the end of the mining boom.

A Deloitte Access Economics report says Australia's mining boom is about to peak and an economic slowdown is inevitable.

Mr Hockey says the report confirms the coalition's criticism of the government's economic management.

"The government has built a budget that is wholly captive to the mining boom and the taxes to be collected from mining taxes," he told reporters in Sydney on Monday.

"Now it's apparent the budget is unravelling because it was built on smoke and mirrors."
The shadow treasurer said the government had failed to address the inevitable economic downturn that followed an economic peak.

"Every boom ends, otherwise it wouldn't be a boom," Mr Hockey said.

"When the mining boom sneezes, the budget gets pneumonia."

The coalition said the government now needed to explain how it would scramble back to a forecast $1.5 billion budget surplus for 2012/13.

"I'm calling on the government to come clean about what taxes and what levies it will introduce to try and make up for the budget black hole," Mr Hockey said.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Australia's Commodities Price Boom is Over: Ferguson

Australia blew the last mining boom and can no longer rely on high commodities prices, federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson says, as China's economy continues to slow.

"From here on in, the premium prices are gone," Mr Ferguson told AAP at the opening of the new Australian Minerals Research Centre in Perth on Friday.

"We're not going to see iron ore at $US180-$US190 a tonne, we're not going to see thermal coal at about $US170 (a tonne), coking coal at about $US320 a tonne any more.

"The only way we will maintain our revenue stream as a country, at a state and federal level, is if we expand capacity."

While Australia was in the midst of the greatest mining boom in its history - with $270 billion committed to future projects and $230 billion more potentially on the way - it had failed to fully cash in on the previous boom of the mid-2000s, the resources minister said.

"Australia did not, as a nation, and nor did the companies, get the last resources boom right," he said.
"China grew quicker than expected - they failed to invest in capacity and we lost market share."

Mr Ferguson said Australia was already disadvantaged by its high labour costs and the resources sector needed to be more efficient.

"We are, in essence, a high-wage economy," he said.

"As grades fall and input costs rise, the Australian resources sector will only continue to prosper if more efficient mining and processing techniques are implemented.

"For Australia to remain competitive in a global market in which low-wage competitors are emerging every year, we must ensure that we develop and employ technology."

As mining profits were squeezed, the nation needed to transform itself into a major exporter of minerals and petroleum services and technology, Mr Ferguson said.

This sector was already vibrant, worth $8.9 billion in global sales in 2008/09, he said.

The minister's reality check came as Australia's main trading partner, China, reported that its economic growth had slowed to a three-year low of 7.6 per cent for the June quarter, down from 8.1 per cent in the previous quarter.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Solar Panel Firms ‘Mislead' Over Carbon

Two solar panel companies have been found to have made misleading comments about the impact of the carbon tax on electricity prices. 

POLARIS Solar and ACT Renewable Energy said in leaflets distributed in Western Australia and the ACT in late 2011 and early 2012 that customers should buy solar panels because electricity prices would increase by 20 per cent due to the carbon price.

The brochures also claimed the cost of power would rise by more than 400 per cent by 2019.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found the information was "clearly misleading".

While the brochures said the figures were based on independent studies, they were in fact based on unverified claims in an energy industry association ad.

"There was no reasonable basis for these claims to be made," ACCC acting chairman Michael Schaper said in a statement.

Polaris Solar and ACT Renewable Energy gave an undertaking on Tuesday not to engage in similar conduct in the future and ensure all directors are trained in consumer law.

Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury said it was an important reminder to businesses they could not make false claims about the carbon price.

"This also underscores the fact that the reckless and negative scare campaign run by Tony Abbott and vested interests is putting businesses at risk of breaking the law," Mr Bradbury said.

Greenhouse Gases - Counter