Mining council blasts government plan to save manufacturing jobs

The local content part of federal government’s plan to assist manufacturers is “cumbersome”, a threat to commercial confidentiality and could actually destroy jobs, according to the Minerals Council of Australia.

In a submission to the industry department, the MCA – a critic of the plan since its announcement – said the Australian Jobs Billannounced in February, was deeply worrying for their industry. The legislation is expected to be introduced to Parliament mid-year and is part of the Plan For Australian Jobs.

Under the legislation, companies undertaking projects worth more than $500 million would have to submit Australian Industry Participation Plans, to be overseen by a new body, Australian Industry Participation Authority. The stated aim of this is to help local companies win access supplying major projects.

"We can continue to be a manufacturing nation, we can be a nation in which people make their living through blue-collar jobs that aren't intermittent or insecure or low paid, blue-collar jobs that are highly skilled and highly paid,” said Prime Minister Julia Gillard at the time.

The MCA’s statement, leaked to The Australian, was highly critical of the plan, which would also require “Australian Industry Opportunity Officers to be embedded in the procurement teams of individual companies” for projects worth more than $2 billion.

"Its measures are cumbersome, ill-defined, incomplete and, most significantly, counterproductive," the MCA’s submission read.

"Rather than supporting the creation and retention of Australian jobs, the draft bill threatens jobs by tying up projects in red tape and reducing competitiveness."

The minerals lobby group, which represents members including BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, is concerned that commercially sensitive information regarding local content would have to be revealed.

The laws would extend on the current requirements that AIPCs be produced for projects worth over $2 billion in order to qualify for tariff breaks.

"[The plan] is not only impractical; it may constitute a breach of stock exchange listing rules on continuous disclosure," said the MCA.

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