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Industry on campaign footing

VARIOUS mining and minerals industry bodies are taking different approaches during the Federal election campaign, with most seeming to adopt a version of the wait-and-react strategy.

A Minerals Council of Australia representative said the council operated with political parties at all times, so during an election period it had no agenda of events or campaigns.

However, the MCA re-sponded with haste to the Aust-ralian Labor Party’s Plan for Tackling Climate Change, released during the first week of the campaign, with a same-day announcement that welcomed a plan on the issue but also expressed concerns over specific proposals and a Sept-ember 2002 deadline for Australia’s ratification of an international climate protocol.

“Industry analysis of the protocol indicates there is not a sound basis for an early decision on ratification,” MCA executive director Dick Wells said.

Mr Wells urged political parties to maintain “a principled approach to addressing climate change”, calling for “restraint in the current context of heightened political activity”.

The MCA approach was in contrast to that of the Australian Gold Council and the Assoc-iation of Mining and Exploration Companies, which took the initiative the week before the election date was announced, sending a letter to the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, Senator Nick Minchin.

The letter described current tax arrangements as discriminatory against minerals exploration and claimed government assistance and promotion had favoured the information technology and biotechnology sectors.

The Australian Gold Council and AMEC asked for an opportunity to discuss an industry tax-incentive proposal aimed at boosting exploration activity, pointing out to Senator Minchin that his own parliamentary secretary Warren Entesch had expressed interest in the proposal for “some time”.

The Senator was further told a copy of the letter also was being sent to the opposition spokesperson for Science and Resources.

AMEC chief executive officer George Savell said the letter had elicited a response from Senator Minchin’s office earlier this week.

Mr Savell said the letter from the Senator’s office repeated responses received in the past year and reiterated the Govern-ment’s role in ensuring proper economic policy. However this letter, while giving no time-frame, said the Senator had referred the proposal to the Australian Bureau of Agri-culture and Resource Eco-nomics for a detailed examin-ation.

Both the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association and the WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy have said they would not normally put up issues on behalf of members during election campaigns. However, both bodies said they closely monitor announcements by major parties.

CME chief executive Tim Shanahan said the chamber would take the opportunity to comment on issues as they arose, while an APPEA spokes-person said the associa-

tion would prepare comment on the implications of any announcements from the major parties which affect their members and send these out to them.

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