There has been much misguided speculation recently about Australia’s mining boom and what it means for the broader national economy and manufacturing, according to the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr.
“Some have portrayed the mining sector as an insatiable beast. A beast whose demand for resources, labour and capital must be fed — whatever the consequences for the rest of the economy,” said Carr in a recent press notice.
“According to this school of thought, the mining sector is so central to our livelihoods that we should sacrifice everything to it. And the beast, in exchange, will carry the nation into a leaner, meaner future. We’ll rip our scarce capital and labour from the so called ‘inefficient’ industries, and somehow thrive as little more than the world’s quarry.”
According to Carr, this approach is flawed for a number of reasons.
“Mining is 8 per cent of GDP and 1.4 per cent of employment. Manufacturing is 10.2 per cent of GDP and 9.2 per cent of employment,” he said.
“Mining is growing fast, but nothing lasts forever, no matter how welcome it is today. It would be bold and naive to think that the income we currently enjoy from the resources sector will continue unabated. Putting all our eggs into one basket simply doesn’t make sense.”
According to Carr, one of the reasons we have weathered the global financial crisis so well is the depth and diversity of our economy.
“We cannot afford to become so focused on mining — or any one sector — that our economy becomes unbalanced,” he said.
“Can we really celebrate the concept of a two-speed economy — where some parts of the country are prosperous and other parts are left to wither on the vine?
“Do we genuinely believe that the workers and communities we sacrifice will be reborn without cost?
“Surely an equitable, prosperous and just society is based on a diverse economic base where innovation, wealth creation and employment occurs across a broad spectrum and is not concentrated in any single sector.
“Now is not the time to abandon the diversity that constitutes the very strength and resilience of the Australian economy.
“What we need to do is ensure that not just the mining sector — but all sectors of our economy are in tip top shape.”