Is the mining boom causing complacency?

PRESIDENT of the Business Council of Australia, Graham Bradley, has warned of the complacency in Australia’s politics and industry caused by the mining boom.

In his address to the Australia–Israel Chamber of Commerce, Bradley addressed the problem of the two-speed economy within Australia, which is seeing the resources industry being boosted by the demand for Australia’s natural resources from India and China, while the manufacturing and electronics sectors stagnate.

“The commodities boom has made it possible to paper over weaknesses in our economic policy settings and to delay decisions that must ultimately be made,” Bradley said.

He outlined two paths: that of complacency (which he believes Australia is currently on) and one of productivity. The latter path can only be taken by decisive action.

“Unless we take steps now we risk seeing thousands of higher value-adding jobs drift overseas and our economy become less adaptable, less diversified, less resilient,” he said.

Bradley called for reforms to encourage our competitive industries to grow by providing a supportive regulatory and taxation environment, development of infrastructure, and an embrace of technology and research and development.

To a degree, the brain drain and jobs drift has already occurred, with the bulk of manufacturing now happening overseas. In the electronics industry in particular, jobs for professional electronics engineers are now far and few between.

In a recent thread found on the Electronics Engineers Australia group on LinkedIn, industry professionals pointed out that the mining industry is seeking “electrical rather than electronic engineers”, and those roles which require electronics skills are very specific, or are within the Defence industry, requiring the relevant military clearances.