A profoundly mismanaged boom

David Uren has an important report today on the forthcoming bust of the commodities investment boom:

Following his post-budget address to business economists, Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson was asked whether the slowing rate of new resource projects getting a go-ahead cast doubt on the strength of the investment outlook.

He replied that Treasury applied very conservative realisation ratios to the investment forecasts of the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

“A significant proportion of the projected investment numbers have already commenced construction, so I don’t think there’s any real risk to that in the next year or two.”

Treasury has business investment growing by 18 per cent this, year, 12.5 per cent in 2012-13 and 8.5 per cent in 2013-14. But some analysts believe the growth could taper off sharply over the year ahead and start falling by 2013-14 if commodity prices remain weak.

Resource investment is expected to peak at about 10 per cent of GDP over the coming year, which compares with a long-run average of little more than 1 per cent.

An analysis by Goldman Sachs chief economist Tim Toohey says the boost from investment to GDP should peak this calendar year at about 2 percentage points, more than halving next year, while fading after that as major projects start winding down.

Toohey says the spill-overs from the big resource projects into the broader economy are less than generally thought, with the big LNG projects in particular having a very high import component.

He estimates that tracing the traditional relationship between resource investment spending and the construction, transport and manufacturing industries, there should be 60,000 jobs generated this year.

In fact, each of these industries has shed staff over the past 12 months, suggesting the multipliers from resource investment are insufficient to offset weakness elsewhere. But the benefits from investment have still cushioned weakness elsewhere in the economy.

As investments are completed, exports volumes will rise, with the increase likely to gather pace from around 2015. Whether export income rises alongside the higher volumes depends upon how far commodity prices fall from their present peaks.

Whatever multipliers one gives to resource investment, they will be larger than those that attach to export income once the investment is complete.

The surge in resource investment will leave Australia richer, cementing its long-term position as the prime supplier of energy and minerals to Asia.

But the insulation it has provided from the world’s woes over the past five years may start to wear thin.

To this we can add an AFR report into last week’s deal between the Government and Gina Rinehart:

Key business leaders have urged the Gillard government to stand firm on the decision to allow 1700 ­foreign workers to fly in to work at Gina Rinehart’s $6.5 billion Roy Hill iron ore mine, saying they will not steal local jobs.

Business Council of Australia president Tony Shepherd criticised the reaction, saying it was irrelevant that the government’s first enterprise migration agreement (EMA) had been granted to the world’s richest woman, West Australian billionaire Ms Rinehart.

“It is totally irrelevant, it is totally and completely irrelevant and it is a very disappointing reaction,” Mr Shepherd told The Australian Financial Review ­yesterday.

“We need people who are prepared to invest in these new projects and have got the entrepreneurial spirit and enterprise to do so and this is not a personal issue, I find that very regrettable,” he said.

Mr Shepherd also rejected criticism that the deals would steal jobs from local workers.

To me these two stories sum things up. I have every confidence that Tim Toohey’s forecast will prove the correct one. The history of capitalism is not friendly to the idea that booms slowly taper off. If anyone can recall a single boom that did not end in a bust I’m all ears.

Nor do I have any problem with imported labour for specific skills shortages in resources projects. If we don’t have the skills, bring them in rather than waste the opportunity.

What I do have a problem with is that this was all foreseeable. It’s been obvious for much of the past decade that the resources boom was going to result in a dramatically higher dollar, with all of the structural pressures that that entails. It’s been obvious since the GFC that the gas boom was not going to deliver a stock market boom. If eighty percent of the resources sector is foreign owned, profits from the LNG boom were always going to flow elsewhere. That we have no broader expertise in LNG manufacturing should be no surprise to anyone either. Nor is it much of a surprise that after the GFC the credit bubble that mining boom mark one had protected would run into trouble as the globe rationed credit, crimping another channel for spreading the boom. That pampered white collar Australians were never going to flock from eastern states to western and northern extremes was not hard to figure out.

So where exactly was the boom ever supposed to deliver?

To be clear, I have no issue with the boom at all. We would never have had the capital and wherewithal to get the boom going if we aimed to own it all. I completely welcome the involvement of foreign capital, labour and the extraction of profits for those who put in their materials.

But why we never introduced a new tax regime to take a fair share of the profits for the nation, as well as ease some of the pressure on other sectors so we had a broader based economy after the bust I will never know.

Houses and Holes
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Comments

  1. Brett Edgerton

    Because we have a political class which is totally incentivised by short term goals (the electoral cycle and individual political/post-political ambition)…

    If their own personal finances (including political incomes and superannuation, and post-political incomes) were tied closely to the long term outcomes of their decisions, then we would see decisions which were more closely tied to the long term benefits of all Australians, and we would see more genuine bipartisanship to achieve it…

    • rob barrattMEMBER

      I don’t think that makes them much different to any other politicians! What really hasn’t happened is the appearance of an informative media that has a responsibility to educate.

      The Murdoch era has brought the like of the Courier Mail – a comic where apostrophes appear in the wrong places and the words “Mum” and “Digger” are liberally sprinkled throughout to proclaim their love of everything “Aus”.

      This sort of headline seeking rag carefully evades calm truth. For example, the real reasons (complexity brought on by the complications of the Award system) for the Queensland Health payroll debacle. This is because the fix requires political action, something no politician will countenance unless it is pointed out & supported by the media. The Media is Australia’s real failure.

      • Brett Edgerton

        I don’t disagree that they are no different to politicians in any other democratic country… but would it not be great to come up with a real solution to this issue, which has come to the fore over recent years because of economic turmoil, which can be modelled in other like-minded countries…

        Sure, it would be good if media organisations were moralistic enough to do as you say… but we do not elect their owners or executives (and one only has to consider the current situation between Gina and Fairfax)… we do, on the other hand, elect the people who regulate the system in which the media operates…

        So first port of call has to be more robust democracy incentivised more to the medium and longer term than the short…

      • 3d1k aka MineBot.

        The amount of posts in one day (and the frequency). Surely you don’t have a real job and are just an industry astroturfer/spruiker?

    • +1

      Spot on! We sit and hope that they serve the public, while seceding their own ambitions. Hahaha.

      Politicians should represent the people, but at the moment they have incentives to solve long term problems with short term solutions. For example we continue to have a Minister of Small Business that has never had a small business! Then we wonder how things go so messed up!

      Politicians are not idiots, they have just been giving the wrong mandate, until that’s fixed don’t expect any anything more.

      Please interchange the word Politician, with Banker, Company Director, CEO’s etc….

      • Brett Edgerton

        I really though that the GFC would bring about more change in the political system… and I always felt that this was the real urgency in reflation, at any and all costs, to protect the system for those who already know how to exploit it for their own good… (H&H, in your book with Prof Garnaut did you write the piece about the constant increase in political donorship by the FIRE economy suggesting that they must have been receiving an adequate return on “investment” to see it continue to increase)…

        The question is, if you could get politicians to make these fundamental changes (afterall, democrarcy was recently spurned by our own prime minister when challenged by a former-leader apparently more popular with the citizenry then her when she suggested “this is not a popularity contest” – heavens to betsy her colleagues actually take any notice of what their electorates actually wanted!), what system could be implemented…

        I would suggest that every politician must be required to go long Australia!

        (btw, I’m more of globalist than a nationalist, and I firmly believe that politicians should understand that doing the best by ALL human beings on the planet is also the best for the human beings that happen to reside in the current geographical designation known as Australia)

        What do I mean by that…

        The brightest people in rooms all around the world spent millions of hours developing synthetic instruments to gamble on mortgages…

        My view is that their time would be more productively used to develop a synthetic instrument covering the economic and social wellbeing of a country which politicians had to take a long position in with a percentage of political income, all of their superannuation, and a very hefty proportion of their post political income (from consultancies and directorships largely flowing on from their experience provided by their election by the citizenry)

        There could be “tranches” within that cover specific portfolios with senior members have a larger proportion of their funds within them… for example someone who served as treasurer would obviously have a higher waiting to the economy… someone who was minister for aboriginal welfar would have a higher weighting towards that…

        At set intervals post leaving politics – every x years, they could be elegible to receive a set percentage of their funds as they are “trading” at that time… It would have to be, in some ways, age dependant – I would suggest someone leaving politics at 50 should still have a large portion of their funds inaccessible at least 10 to 15 years later (someone older could have an accelerated release)…

        Personally, I hope that they would all become fabulously wealthy – because it would mean that we all have prospered in the long term from good governance and management… for instance, if a minister really made a major impact in reducing the gap in life expectancy for aboriginal people, than that is an absolutely priceless achivement, but one that could also be rewarded materially within such a system…

        This is probably a pipe dream… but it is nice to dream about a system where our elected leadership really did care about the long term good of the people…

        • Hmm for me you are thinking too much within the confines of the current system. Tear down it down a bit more I’d say. 😉

        • drsmithyMEMBER

          (afterall, democrarcy was recently spurned by our own prime minister when challenged by a former-leader apparently more popular with the citizenry then her when she suggested “this is not a popularity contest” – heavens to betsy her colleagues actually take any notice of what their electorates actually wanted!)

          What is this referring to ?

  2. drsmithyMEMBER

    Nor do I have any problem with imported labour for specific skills shortages in resources projects. If we don’t have the skills, bring them in rather than waste the opportunity.

    This seems like a false dichotomy. Why is training local workers with the necessary skills not an option ?

      • HnH,

        I have met a number of people over the last couple of years who have tried to join the “mining boom”.

        Generally speaking, they have all had “desirable” qualifications and/or experience.

        In every instance their story was that they were keen to become involved, but were required to undertake a range of “indoctrination” courses at their own expense. One bloke I met, who was an experienced truck driver, gave it up when he found that the cost to qualify (just for consideration for the position) was several thousand dollars.

        I don’t vouch for the veracity of these stories, but it does make one wonder just exactly how much training is being provided by the mining industry.

        • Alex Heyworth

          I’m sure you are right that many people are deterred by stringent requirements imposed by the mining industry. The “indoctrination” you refer to presumably is to do with their very strict rules on drugs and alcohol and their obsession with OH&S.

          It is a pity that companies in other industries (eg transport and construction) aren’t as strict and obsessive.

    • Alex Heyworth

      “Why is training local workers with the necessary skills not an option ?”

      It is, and is also being pursued. Just that it is impossible to find and train sufficient workers in the time frame required.

      • It’s not as if this has caught them by surprise. There has been a boom since roughly 2003.

        They’ve had 9 years to get the flow of sufficient labour to their desired needs. How much more time do they need?

        But guess where that all falls down?

        That’s where our pampered, welfare seeking corporations show their colours again, by attempting to socialise costs.

        • Alex Heyworth

          RP, that’s just rhetoric that reflects your innate prejudices. Doesn’t add anything to the discussion (although maybe it makes you feel better).

          Of course you are right that miners (and any company) will try to offload costs onto the government if they possibly can. They would be failing their duty to shareholders if they did otherwise.

          You seem to have a strange perception that companies should be immune to self interest, when it is the ruling principle of human lives. Some of us, of course, are more honest in recognizing self interest in ourselves.

          • RP, that’s just rhetoric that reflects your innate prejudices. Doesn’t add anything to the discussion (although maybe it makes you feel better).

            Of course you are right that miners (and any company) will try to offload costs onto the government if they possibly can. They would be failing their duty to shareholders if they did otherwise.

            They have every right to attempt to do so. I am not debating that.

            What I am saying they should be dealt with as the same as a parent deals with a petulant child.

            Tough Love.

            They may want it, but it is not the best interests of the community to cede such demands. It is not in the best interests of the entity if it wants to grow up to be a responsible and self-sufficient entity. God forbid our lazy and entitled business community ever grow up and learn how to compete.

            You seem to have a strange perception that companies should be immune to self interest, when it is the ruling principle of human lives. Some of us, of course, are more honest in recognizing self interest in ourselves.

            How the hell did you conclude that?

            I am well aware of self interest, I talk more about game theory here than anyone.

            What I am saying that if certrain parties keep acting in their self interest for 9 straight years, now demand that their future prosperity be underwritten by placing dowanward pressure on the standard of living of Australians, then they aren’t ever going to operate in the national interest.

            For the, time for.. Tough Love.

          • “… certrain parties keep acting in their self interest for 9 straight years, now demand that their future prosperity be underwritten by placing dowanward pressure on the standard of living of Australians, then they aren’t ever going to operate in the national interest.”

            Banks. No shame.

          • Alex Heyworth

            Hmm, “our lazy and entitled business community” includes some of the world’s most successful resource companies. Just imagine what they could achieve if they got off their backsides!

            I’m not quite sure what you are arguing for. What “tough love” in particular did you have in mind? No 457 visas? That would be cutting off our nose to spite our face, imo.

          • Hmm, “our lazy and entitled business community” includes some of the world’s most successful resource companies. Just imagine what they could achieve if they got off their backsides!

            😀

            So the natural endowment of Ferrous Oxide laying in high concentrations all over the Pilbara has nothing to do with it?

            I mean for Fertescue to come in and all of a sudden become the 4th cheapest Iron Ore producer in the world has more to do with Twiggy’s charisma than the paleolithic formation of minerals?

            I’m not quite sure what you are arguing for. What “tough love” in particular did you have in mind? No 457 visas? That would be cutting off our nose to spite our face, imo.

            In the first year, sure maybe a few years more, perhaps.

            Nine years into a boom shows they are not willing to expend anything to rectify the problem whilst they continue to seek to pursue the path of least resistance in sourcing labour.

      • dumb_non_economist

        AH,
        No correct by a long shot, trade training takes around 3-4 yrs and there have been a number of projects that have been ongoing for a lot longer than that and stuff all training has been achieved. With regards to the metal trades industry dumped apprentice training on the Fed gov decades ago and don’t see it as their responsibility.
        Mining’s attitude is wait till a project is ready to start yell out loud about your requirements and how they cannot be met and demand 457 workers/immigration or projects at risk.
        Even unskilled positions are not easy to get, my sister spent thousands getting a HR drivers license after hire firms said she would have no problem getting employment to find the true story was somewhat different, even getting into a house keeping/kitchen work took 3 mths and for a 14/7 roster paid all up including overtime a flat $21.80 ph.

        • Alex Heyworth

          My reply to RP pretty much applies to you as well, dne. But I would like to see your evidence that stuff all training has been done.

          • I have relatives in the industry here in Gladstone, I’ll ask what they think when I see them next.

            I know that LNG was offering 400 training places of some sort a while ago (early last year I think, or maybe even before) but it was for those who already had the relevant skills but no offical piece of paper saying that they were a qualified tradie, the idea being to train these people up to full tradesmen.

            I think the government partly chipped in and I think what they were really doing was poaching semi-skilled labour from the other big industrial plants here for their own project. Will have to backcheck on that.

          • Alex,

            Yeah, to hell with all this negative stuff.

            How about you give us some evidence that verifies the amount of training that has been done?

            Perhaps you could provide us with details of:

            -training run and paid for by the mining industry

            -number of Australians who have been so trained and subsequently employed in the industry

            -what programs are currently in place to recruit displaced workers from the East Coast, and the extent of assistance provided by the mining industry for such workers to relocate to some of the most inhospitable and expensive places in the country

            – what percentage of the mining companies’ budgets is given over to the sourcing and training of Australian workers

            Should make for interesting reading.

          • dumb_non_economist

            AH,
            I cannot point you to figures or “evidence,” but what I can do is relate to the many people I know in the metal fabrication area, specifically mining and that is trade training is minimal and has been for decades. I know what it was like in the late 70s to early 80s as I did a boilermaker/welder apprenticeship before leaving the industry a few yrs after and the level and degree of training is nowhere near what it was, that is my view and is more than reinforced by those I know still there (mainly management now). A friend’s mate in senior management with Chevron (moved over from Woodside) has stated the same to me in discussions on the shills shortage and has no argument about why we have a shortage. The metal trades shortage is also a couple of decades in the making. Industry no longer believes it has a role to play in training, it believes it’s a gov responsibility. If you go back to the early 70s into the 80s the miners employed and trained large numbers of apprentices, no longer the case. Trade training is fragmented and dismal in my view from what I saw recently while undertaking some welding refresher training.

          • Alex Heyworth

            Thanks, dne. That is both more informative and a substantive contribution to the discussion. So metal trades, at least, is one area where a lot more could have been done.

          • Alex Heyworth

            Julius, that’s a pretty big ask. What university are you representing, and how much does the PhD scholarship pay?

          • Alex,

            You need to spend more time studying 3D1K’s technique.

            You really have a lot more to learn about sliding out from under, and leading the conversation off into the land of the irrelevant.

          • Julius, thank you. When ya good, ya good!

            Alas your own attempt at diversion has failed – I stick to the facts. 🙂

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        It is, and is also being pursued. Just that it is impossible to find and train sufficient workers in the time frame required.

        Rubbish. It’s been 10 years since the mining boom kicked off and 20 years since Gina did her exploration of the area.

        • There is a lack of understanding of what is going on here.

          The peak labour demand lies in the construction phase. Mining companies subcontract to a range of engineering and mining services companies for the bulk of this work.

          Engineering and mining services companies seek employees to fill these construction positions. These employees are sourced throughout Australia and increasingly from overseas.

          Effectively there is fluctuating demand for these type of construction related jobs, jobs which have project-based timeframes. ie Not for the life of the mine. It is neither appropriate for nor the responsibility of mining companies to train this workforce. Mining companies however do train and employ a range of occupations suited to the ongoing operational function of the mines.

          It should also be noted that the construction sector is highly mobile with skilled workers prepared to ‘follow the work’, unlike workers in many other sectors. This suits the project oriented nature of the work and generally satisfies the demands of resources, engineering and mining services companies. At present demand is at peak!

          • There is a lack of understanding of what is going on here.

            Refusing to pray at the altar of mining exceptionalism is not lack of understanding.

            The peak labour demand lies in the construction phase. Mining companies subcontract to a range of engineering and mining services companies for the bulk of this work.
            Engineering and mining services companies seek employees to fill these construction positions. These employees are sourced throughout Australia and increasingly from overseas.

            And?

            It is a highly lucrative career, and it comes off the back of assets belonging to the people.

            A mining company is offered the opportunity to make lots of reward for very little enterprise. What people are voicing is that our citizens have their current and future opportunites maximised by being allowed to pursue a career in this areas.

            A fair trade off yes?

            Effectively there is fluctuating demand for these type of construction related jobs, jobs which have project-based timeframes. ie Not for the life of the mine…..

            It is neither appropriate for nor the responsibility of mining companies to train this workforce.

            Then who’s reponsibility is it?

            A sovereign state is meant to provide a ready made custom workforce then is it?

            How about being responsible for providing ones own assets?

            Or are human resources not considered an assets?

            Switzerland’s population of 7 million is an extremely valuable resources in their eyes, as are Singapores 5 million valaubale human resources.

            Mining companies however do train and employ a range of occupations suited to the ongoing operational function of the mines.

            How can this possibly reconcile with EMA’s?

            It should also be noted that the construction sector is highly mobile with skilled workers prepared to ‘follow the work’, unlike workers in many other sectors. This suits the project oriented nature of the work and generally satisfies the demands of resources, engineering and mining services companies. At present demand is at peak!

            It’s been demanding highly for 10 years.

            What have they done to rectify the supply side?

          • Who said anything about praying at the altar of mining exceptionalism….well, ok, not a bad idea!

            My point is the construction phase is the peak employment phase. Construction workers are not mineworkers in the traditional sense. One project may be a city skyscraper, the next a dam, the following a goldmine (riggers on the new BHP building in Perth were earning as much or more than those in the north-west, in some case (nightshift) $6,000 per week!).

            Construction and related skills are currently in peak demand but it must be understood that this demand will level off post project completion. “Rectifying the supply side” in any formal sense is problematic but natural evolution of supply and demand will apply. Construction and engineering companies do train staff for these positions and many individuals privately undertake the necessary training to improve employment prospects (a solid investment when one can expect remuneration circa $150k+) – something I am sure you would agree with.

            EMAs – at present an agreement only, part of the guarantee of project completion/handover date necessary for financing and targeted at the construction phase.

            As for your flippant “A mining company is offered the opportunity to make lots of reward for very little enterprise.”

            That is facile bullsh*t and you know it.

          • My point is the construction phase is the peak employment phase. Construction workers are not mineworkers in the traditional sense. One project may be a city skyscraper, the next a dam, the following a goldmine

            Except mining companies, with a ton of supporting anecdotal evidence, are specifying in some instances that they are.

            I personally know of sparkies truck drivers seeking employment in the mines who have been refused because of lack of minnig experience.

            If the skill set is that precise, as mining companies themselves are declaring this level of precision, then they can be the ones responsible for that the labour force acquring those skills, they are the mining companies assets after all.

            (riggers on the new BHP building in Perth were earning as much or more than those in the north-west, in some case (nightshift) $6,000 per week!).

            Construction and related skills are currently in peak demand but it must be understood that this demand will level off post project completion.

            Why must it be understood?

            I well aware of labour intensive mining development is compared to production. That is not the point. The production phase involves assets of the mining companies, that have made this clear by their refusal to accept the slightest disparity in skillsets, otherwise they wouldn’t seek labour offshore as much.

            “Rectifying the supply side” in any formal sense is problematic but natural evolution of supply and demand will apply.

            It isn’t problematic at all. It’s investment in skills.

            Construction and engineering companies do train staff for these positions and many individuals privately undertake the necessary training to improve employment prospects (a solid investment when one can expect remuneration circa $150k+) – something I am sure you would agree with.

            Except as we keep repeating.

            An investment like this can be made, with the result being a mining company rejecting job seekers because their skillset is not precise enough.

            If further precision is needed so a mining company can imrpove its human resources base, then mining companies can invest into that resource base.

            They’ve had 9 years to make such an investment and they have refused to make any meaningful investment. Instead they wish to seek to take a path of least resistance by EMA’s.

            EMAs – at present an agreement only, part of the guarantee of project completion/handover date necessary for financing and targeted at the construction phase.

            As I said, to meet these terms, Australian society is underwriting the prosperity of mining organisations, via an outcome that puts potential downward pressure on their standard of living.

            What the EMA’s present is company assets without payingthe proper price for them.

            As for your flippant “A mining company is offered the opportunity to make lots of reward for very little enterprise.”

            That is facile bullsh*t and you know it.

            It isn’t facile at all. As I said I am not going to pray at the altar of mining exceptionalism.

            It will admit it involves toil, it involves large degrees of capital risk, but the endeavour of a bright mind, it is not.

          • dumb_non_economist

            2d,
            That peak skills requirement is related to the construction phase of mine development is well known by industry, but collectively industry and the gov have done next to nothing to ensure availability of the required skills level over the last decade at least. It only takes 3-4 yrs to train a tradesman, it’s not rocket science and there has been a large number of projects in the last decade to have made a dent in the number required, but nothing has been achieved in this area. The construction/mining area as a whole should be levied to pay for the training as it benefits from having a reasonable supply of trades and this may have had an effect on wage levels as well.

          • Mav. There is a lot of excitement over which, at present, is nothing more than an agreement in principle. Ideally, when the time comes, if these additional positions are required to be filled, local workers will be available. This would be the preferred outcome for all, I am sure. 🙂

          • Alex Heyworth

            The comments by Twiggy Forrest (as well as his company policy of training and employing indigenous Australians) are a salutary reminder that not all entrepreneurs and not all mining companies are equal.

            I applaud Forrest and Fortescue for their policy (and practice) while defending Gina Rinehardt’s right to do otherwise.

          • ..and I defend the right of the sovereign to set the immigration policy as against handing it over to private robber barons via EMAs.

          • Alex Heyworth

            Sure, Mav. No argument from me. We are just arguing about what the policy should be.

          • Slight exaggeration there Mav. An agreement to potentially allow for 1700 foreign workers to take up positions not able to be filled from within Australia does not equate with a handover of immigration policy to corporations.

            Don’t forget, was negotiated with the government and has the government’s seal of approval.

            …think of it as compensation for the foreign aid expenditure slashed from the budget.

          • drsmithyMEMBER

            Don’t forget, was negotiated with the government and has the government’s seal of approval.

            Amazing (well, not really) how you didn’t have that attitude with the RSPT.

          • 3d1k, on this occasion, I am merely agreeing with your constant complaint that the Gillard government policy does not represent the interest of the people.

            They have negotiated away the sovereign right in exchange for nothing (as they did with the MRRT).

  3. “We would never have had the capital and wherewithal to get the boom going if we aimed to own it all”

    I disagree. We shouldn’t aim to own it all but there is a very large pool of funds available for investment in this country that was firstly short sighted in the opportunities in the resources and related sectors but secondly incentivised to go elsewhere for the last 20 years.

    Spend some time with Mega Bank and Aussie super fund managers and you’d understand the warped view of lending and investment risk

    • On the ABC news this morning was an item about the “mining capital investment boom”, which from memory was around 98 committed projects requiring capital of just over $200 billion.

      With around $1.2 trillion in superannuation, and a housing market in excess of $4 trillion, $200 billion does seem like relatively small biccies, doesn’t it?

      • It is small bickies, but the recipe is complex.

        We don’t have the talent, comeptence nor ability in our banks or fund management sectors though to take advatnage of the reward from such complexity.

        Houses, as they never go down, is the way forward!

  4. Mismanagement says it all. It’s almost over before it started in some regards, and the politicians and the bureaucrats needed to engage everyone in the country, and they failed. Henry’s reforms were largely ignored. The future fund invests so much outside Australia, and in crazy stuff like tobacco; makes returns, but is it ethical. We do a lot of preaching to the rest of the world, but we’ve built a house of cards.

        • Jono/Jack, governments change, but bureaucrats remain. They have a responsibility, but as we see the SES type guys loose their contracts if they fall out of favour, but rather than building empires as they do, they need to serve us as well which you could argue they don’t. We can kick out the politicians, but not the mandarins. My sister worked up there for quite a few years, and she is very scathing of the environment and work ethic.

          I don’t think any side of politics serve us. They look after themselves and the spend our money with little regard of the true welfare of the nation. It’s all about power, and their golden pensions and directorships when they leave; end of story.

  5. Alex Heyworth

    “we never introduced a new tax regime to take a fair share of the profits for the nation”

    Bit of a throwaway line, H&H. Care to expound on what you think a fair share might have been, and how it might have been achieved without deterring investment?

  6. SweeperMEMBER

    “Treasury has business investment growing by 18 per cent this, year, 12.5 per cent in 2012-13 and 8.5 per cent in 2013-14”.

    The advice from Treasury (and in particular Parkinson) has been awful. They’ve made bold predictions on things which are notoriously volatile (eg. the currency and investment growth). They act like there is a consensus in theory backing them up – but there isn’t. They haven’t taken into account post-GFC realities (eg. 0% rates in high-income countries). IMO, the arrogance of Treasury goes along way to explaining the booms mismanagement.

  7. “But why we never introduced a new tax regime to take a fair share of the profits for the nation, as well as ease some of the pressure on other sectors so we had a broader based economy after the bust I will never know.”

    Because government keep throwing money down the money hole.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnX-D4kkPOQ

    I say we need a bold vision and courageous leadership for the future. I demand more money holes !

  8. But some analysts believe the growth could taper off sharply over the year ahead and start falling by 2013-14 if commodity prices remain weak

    Not sure if this is a Uren “framing” problem or a sub editor problem but by what measure are commodity prices weak? Every now and then we get an RBA commodities chart posted here which almost looks exponential — admittedly the time series starts from the bottom of the commodities bear market.

    I’m assuming he actually means expectation of weak prices in the future?

  9. can someone throw some light on this?

    Over the weekend, on Insiders (ABC), there was a journalist saying “in WA, Mcdonalds manager job goes for 150K and a welder’s for 320-330k…but no one wants to move, even though the WA government is offering cash-incentive for people to move to WA to take up jobs..”

    Meanwhile, I see a lot of “comments” on MSM new articles, where people say
    1) i have applied, so have my 20 other friends, but they dont even want to consider us for the jobs
    2) I have 10 years exp blah blah, but the recruitment agencies dont even reply to my application
    3) I have 5 year exp, willing to FIFO, have a forklift, crane ,blah blah license.. but I dont even get a reply from HR/recruitment firms
    etc, etc

    There is certainly something “missing”. Either the sample of comments on MSM articles are the usual job-rejects or the journalist/s are lying…

    • I know of a couple of blokes who have been unable to get FIFO work despite what you might consider to be good trade skills — welding, forklift etc.

      I also know a bloke with significant supply chain management experience but not in the mining industry. The response he got (for mid management jobs) was he hasn’t been in mining so “go away.”

      So hard to know what to make of it. But the limited sample size I have had exposure to indicates something wrong with HR departments who seem to have an inability to recognize portable skills.

      (HR in this country will ultimately be our downfall)

      • > HR in this country will ultimately be our downfall

        agreed.
        Coming from a technology-domain, I know that only 3 or 4 companies (out of around 20+), here in Australia, have a ‘respectable’ HR department.

        1. call me un-australian, but I cannot stand if I a ‘HR’ guy addresses me as “mate”
        2. if the HR person makes a spelling mistake or cannot frame a proper sentence in an email.
        3. says in reference to a offer “this is the best you can get”…I am sorry that should be “this is the best WE can offer”
        4. i might be generalising, HR guys in Australia are equivalent of RE agents, i.e. used-car salesman!

        • +1

          in my experience they don’t hold a candle to their counterparts in the USA or UK.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        So hard to know what to make of it. But the limited sample size I have had exposure to indicates something wrong with HR departments who seem to have an inability to recognize portable skills.

        In my experience this is common to every HR department in existence.

    • Alex Heyworth

      Seems to me that the bigger mining companies, in particular, are fairly picky about who they employ. For example, I have heard that if you want to drive a mining truck, you have to start with a smaller miner (on considerably lower pay) and gain at least a year or two’s experience before you will be considered by the big league miners.

      Maybe the problem is that the jobseekers are applying to the big miners that everyone has heard of, whereas the jobs for inexperienced workers are with the small guys no-one has heard of.

      • Maybe the problem is that the jobseekers are applying to the big miners that everyone has heard of, whereas the jobs for inexperienced workers are with the small guys no-one has heard of.

        Beggars can’t be choosers. If those sort of demands are being made then the ‘skills shortage’ isn’t as acute as the big miners are making out.

        • Alex Heyworth

          “Beggars can’t be choosers” cuts both ways. I presume you also have no sympathy for those saying they have relevant skills but can’t get a job.

          • ??

            They don’t compare. If a person has skills, but no job vacancy exists, there isn’t much that can be done.

            I would impose compuslory horse ownership because someone skilled themselves up in being a farrier.

            But that said, if an unemployed farrier existed and a mining company sought out 457 farriers whilst the Australian farrier wasn’t being awarded the job because he hadn’t put shoes on mine specific horses, I’d be telling the mining companies to p*ss off.

          • Alex Heyworth

            Clearly I am not talking about the situation where no job exists, but where a lesser paid job with worse conditions exists, but the worker claims to have been rejected on the basis of their applications for the big buck, good conditions jobs.

          • Clearly I am not talking about the situation where no job exists, but where a lesser paid job with worse conditions exists, but the worker claims to have been rejected on the basis of their applications for the big buck, good conditions jobs.

            That might be apt if the workers were the ones complaining about being relegated to lesser paid jobs with worse conditions. But that’s not the criteria we are focused on.

            Here we have the big buck, good condiotins job prodivers complaining there is no one suitable applying for their jobs. They can quite easily poach condidates from the former scenario, with the offer of bigge bucks and better conditions.

            They are not seeking that even though the structural conditions exists for the prosperity of all. The big buck employer is seeking to alter the structure of the labout market where they will find a bottom to lower paid, poor conditioned jobs.

            In a NAIRU structure, it will work.

            And this is the point that is obscene, the structure which exists, and most likely temporarily, does so because of a natural endowment of minerals, a windfall.

            This act seeks to minimise the reward the owners of the windfall can potnetially, whilst maximising the windfall benefit to the corporation.

            I understand their self interst in such, but in no way do I believe should we yield to that self interest.

            They need our iron ore more than we need them. We can easily find a substitute miner, they can’t find another Pilbara.

          • If avoiding trouble is your desire, then yield to all Union demands.

            That’ll work won’t it?

          • Alex Heyworth

            RP, this part of the thread started with comments by Virus and Minebot 2.0 about people complaining that they had relevant skills but couldn’t get jobs.

            Perhaps you forgot.

          • RP, this part of the thread started with comments by Virus and Minebot 2.0 about people complaining that they had relevant skills but couldn’t get jobs.

            Perhaps you forgot.

            No I didn’t forget. In fact the initiative post was very memorable because I too saw Inside Business on Sunday, and wuold have brought it to attention if they hadn’t.

            The context Virus is phrasing is by the reponse that some of the labour market is giving to the spruik of the mining industry, and related engineering contractors.

            They are the ones bleating the need forimported labour, saying their is shortage because there is insufficient applicants. The labour market is responding that they are applying and still getting knocked back for superficial reasons.

            If the labour market is responding “f*ck off, I’m happy where I am” then the mining industry would be welcome to get what it needs.

            They are not, they are actively knocking back applicants for reasons that are unreasonable.

            Truck drivers are applying to drive trucks.

            Electrical tradesmen are applying for perform electrical trades.

            Both are seeking to enhances their prosperity from the gifted windfall of mineral wealth. They are not exploiting mining enterprise, the mining industry didn’t put the mnerals in the ground.

            The reasons for denial are for reasons of precision that again, are unreasonable.

            Mining workers are made, not born. If the precision required is specific to mining, no non-minng entity can realistically be able to provide them.

            Thus ONLY the mining industry can be expected to contribute to the development of this asset base.

            They can invest in this, otherwise that can forfeit development. We’ll wait until another generation operates in a desirable manner.

          • Alex Heyworth

            The context Virus is phrasing is by the reponse that some of the labour market is giving to the spruik of the mining industry, and related engineering contractors.

            A bit incoherent, RP. Can you rephrase?

            They are not, they are actively knocking back applicants for reasons that are unreasonable.

            According to you. I was unaware that you were an expert on what the requirements are for jobs with mining companies.

            Perhaps the people getting knocked back couldn’t hack the no alcohol, no drugs policy. Perhaps the company thought they were too old and wouldn’t be able to cope with the rigours of mining work in a harsh climate.

            You don’t even know the reasons these people were knocked back, yet you claim to know that the reasons given were “unreasonable”. A long bow, to say the least.

          • The context Virus is phrasing is by the reponse that some of the labour market is giving to the spruik of the mining industry, and related engineering contractors.

            A bit incoherent, RP. Can you rephrase?

            OK, Virus stated the following

            can someone throw some light on this?
            Over the weekend, on Insiders (ABC), there was a journalist saying “in WA, Mcdonalds manager job goes for 150K and a welder’s for 320-330k…but no one wants to move, even though the WA government is offering cash-incentive for people to move to WA to take up jobs..”
            Meanwhile, I see a lot of “comments” on MSM new articles, where people say
            1) i have applied, so have my 20 other friends, but they dont even want to consider us for the jobs

            ….

            So mining related industries saying ‘we’re throwing the kitchen sink at getting labour, and no one responds.

            labour market saying

            “we are applying.. me and 20 friends, and no response”

            The spruik from mining is we can’t get labuor, the labour market response is ‘you can get labour, you’re not taking us on”

            When you stated

            RP, this part of the thread started with comments by Virus and Minebot 2.0 about people complaining that they had relevant skills but couldn’t get jobs.

            The labour market made the claim they couldn’t get jobs, but they are responses.

            They are dejected labour participants who couldn’t handle rejection from unsolicited inquiries. The responded to the request for labour.

            They are not, they are actively knocking back applicants for reasons that are unreasonable.

            According to you. I was unaware that you were an expert on what the requirements are for jobs with mining companies.

            Perhaps the people getting knocked back couldn’t hack the no alcohol, no drugs policy.

            Perhaps the company thought they were too old and wouldn’t be able to cope with the rigours of mining work in a harsh climate.

            You don’t even know the reasons these people were knocked back, yet you claim to know that the reasons given were “unreasonable”. A long bow, to say the least

            I live in the coal face here in WA.

            I know of people who were knocked back. I was knocked back in a previous vocational field. There richest of all my friends in a mining recruitment agent. I know the responses that are given.

            There is a saying make enough laws, and you make everyone a criminal.

            Make enough job requirements, and everyone is unqualified.

            The reasons I have seen people rejected are all basically to being insufficiently qualified. The criteria for being qualified, according to the rejection feedback can only be obtained by working in mining anyway. That element, which no other entity can be responsbile for providing, should be the responsbility of the mining industry.

            How can it be reasonable to say other entities provide for this when no other entity can?

            That is why the request from mining in this area is unreasonable.

            They are after human resource asstes without investing in human resource assets.

            They want something for nothing.. or in other words, welfare.

          • Alex Heyworth

            So, RP, I gather your contention is that the mining companies get plenty of applications from qualified applicants, but they knock back lots of them for no good reason. Why would they do this? Are you suggesting it is because they really want to employ foreigners? Why would that be, when they are bound to pay Australian wages to any imported workers?

            There is indeed something missing here. I suggest it has something to do with a disconnect between what people think mining company requirements are and their actual requirements. Of course, I could be wrong. Happy to hear any other suggestions.

          • drsmithyMEMBER

            So, RP, I gather your contention is that the mining companies get plenty of applications from qualified applicants, but they knock back lots of them for no good reason. Why would they do this? Are you suggesting it is because they really want to employ foreigners? Why would that be, when they are bound to pay Australian wages to any imported workers?

            Given the first textbook play private industry uses to circumvent immigration restrictions and import cheaper foreign labour is in play (highly specific job requirements), it’s pretty much a shoe-in that the second one is as well: once the foreign labour is suitably visa’d up for position X, simply change the definition of position X so that it now involves the tasks for the (normally higher-paying) position Y.

            These sort of shennanigans were (and still are) rife throughout the tech-boom in the USA in the late ’90s and early ’00s.

            The long game being played is simply to normalise the “skills shortage” cry so that whenever the locals get uppity, they can simply be smacked down with another group of cheap imported labour.

          • Alex Heyworth

            drsmithy, no visas for Roy Hill have been approved yet. Judith Sloan comments in today’s Oz

            The EMA will allow the mining project in the Pilbara to sponsor more than 1700 workers on 457 visas during the construction phase “where they cannot find Australians to fill the positions”.

            In addition, there will be 2000 training places for Australians, including 200 apprenticeships and traineeships. There is also a commitment to prepare 100 indigenous people for work in the construction industry. A Jobs Board is to be created to ensure that “foreign workers are only recruited after genuine efforts to first employ Australians”.

            I don’t suppose that you care too much for Judith Sloan’s politics, but I doubt she is wrong on the facts.

      • So, by your own admission, the big miners are not prepared to train on the job. Q E D.

        • The big miners do train on the job. They train workers needed for the operational processes of the mine.

          Miners contract engineering, mining services and construction companies to build the infrastructure. The positions are sourced from the highly mobile construction sector, participants having been trained via trade qualification or direct experience with construction firms. These positions are project based and of limited duration – rather difficult to instigate formal training in large numbers for what is long term fluctuating demand.

        • Alex Heyworth

          Further to my earlier response, you are confusing a requirement of previous experience in a mining environment (which is what the big miners prefer) with unwillingness to train workers, which is false.

          Truck drivers for the big miners receive extensive training on a truck specific driving simulator before they are allowed anywhere near a truck.

          • Thank Copper. You are exactly right. What you describe reflects my experience and the experience of most mining companies across the nation – but some just don’t want to hear. Too busy noisily exercising their ‘entitlement attitude’ to the tune of Gimme Gimme.

        • I watched this announcement by the MPs and industry live on TV on Friday. In answer to a journalists query, the mining representative said they had 10,000 traineeships pa. The mike then went noisy and he said something along the lines that with people changing career options or moving away from mining, mines gain about 3000 of the final trainees pa.

    • dumb_non_economist

      Virus, I wouldn’t pay too much attention to any of the spouting about 300+K welding jobs, they are few and far between and are also at the absolute pinnacle skill wise in that area. A lot of noise is made about incomes in mining and when you take a close look you find huge hours are involved and lots of time away from home, it shouldn’t be romanticised.
      Your comments about people applying and having no luck are VERY accurate.

      • dne. I think you are right about welding wages at $300,000 pa. This I think only refers to top deepsea welders on the oil rigs.

  10. I was listening to Saul Eslake on the radio yesterday who said we haven’t mismanaged this boom as badly as previous resources booms because of the floating exchange rate.

    A question to all: Do you agree with this premise?

    Sure the floating dollar has saved us from the inflationary impacts of previous booms, but we seemed to have swapped high inflation for a decimated trade-exposed sector. Which is the worse outcome?

    • Very good question.

      Hignsight will obviously answer this for us.

      I can see where he is coming from in regards to a snapshit in time.

      Say you regard this point in time as ‘Boom + 10 years’, compared to previous ‘boom + 10 years’.

      Previous efforts would have seen us wracked with inflation.

      Intuitively, a more closed market inhibits the potential for capital exodus, thus the controllers of capital less able to hold us to ransom, and the recovery period could be more of racing to the bottom, in a world where everyone is racing to the bottom.

      Likewise, the necessity for a broader industrial base in a closed economy, whilst costing the consumer more over the cycle, would have actually existed to offer more diverse opportunites in vocational skillsets.

      I fear what post-crash career paths will be available if we get a US style dislocation. Mining, competing against EMA’s or trying to peddle niche consumption wares is a retail landscape.

    • Thank for that pre-programmed response.

      This was a serious question. I would appreciate something a little deeper (for once) than your automated talking points

      It strikes me that inflation is a short-term phenomenon, more cyclical than structural, whereas the loss our non-mining trade-exposed sectors is structural and possibly permanent. By floating the dollar we seem to have swapped cyclical pain for structural upheaval.

      Its a much bigger deal than “swings and roundabouts”.

  11. Jumping jack flash

    I can’t see how it could have been better managed, all things being equal.

    What are we really saying here? We needed more taxes? A clawing back of more mining profits to distribute to the people as welfare? More infrastructure projects from the mining boom proceeds? Upgrade all the roads and bridges in Australia?

    BHP buys an electric car for every man, woman and child? (now this may have been a step in the right direction as long as the cars were made in Australia from Australian designs, and badged with an Australian-only car manufacturer’s logo)

    Any way you slice it, the structure of our economy combined with capitalism and human nature is such that even if we clawed 100% of mining profits from the big miners, they would have been squandered on houses, debt repayment and buying overseas produced goods. If not directly by the companies, by the workers on these infrastructure projects with their wages, etc.

    And say if we forced mining companies to buy a percentage of steel from Australian steel manufacturers, would this be capitalism, or crony communism? Bring in the steel tariffs, I say!

    We’ve got to look deeper for the solution, not the surface symptomns where we see obscene mining profits on one side, and “battlers” “struggling” on 120K combined household incomes and a failing retail sector on the other. So obviously we blame the rich, powerful miners.

    Why is it really like it is?

    • <iI can’t see how it could have been better managed, all things being equal.

      Then ask yourself…

      ‘What do we have to show for it?’

      Review its previous booms.

      The wool boom of the 1840’s, Australia got off the ground of being a net capital importer from England, and built up an environment from basically heing a barracks, to a small colony.

      The gold boom of the 1850’s to 1890′. It built up the beginning of acivilised society, Coinciding with the anti-serf revolutions of central europe, it attracted a class of people other than convicts or economic opportunists. We built civic and artisitcs insitutes.

      The industrial boom of the WWII and post WWII period. We industrialised.

      The late 60’s, 70’s mineral boom. We transformed our institutes to at least to attempt to compete in the world space, by investing and easing access into skill centres such as universities, and vocational bodis.

      The 2000’s boom (probably the richest of them all), we got 3 desalintion plants, a train line in Perth, a new hospital in Perth, upgraded Adelaide oval into a shrine for Victorian Boganball.

      With the extra cash flow we got from the boom, we took it to leverage foreign debt, into paying 3 times as much for our existing housing stock.

      That’s what we have to show for this mining boom.

      • Jumping jack flash

        You are correct, but how to fix the current problem?

        It goes much deeper than just throwing our hands into the air and crying about the mismanagement of the boom, as if it was something that we could have pulled a few levers and fixed.

        It goes back to the fact that we produce nothing that anyone wants or needs to buy, and the few things we do produce that are useful, are far too expensive for anyone to bother with because of our high wages and luxurious working conditions we demand making us uncompetitive compared to other countries producing the same things.

        If you could paint it as management, I suppose better “management” would have been to use the boom to build a ton of factories, give everyone working in them wage subsidies to make us more globally competitive while maintaining our high prices and standards of living, and start producing the things that people in Australia and all around the world wanted to waste their incomes on at the time. Then export, export, export like there was no tomorrow.

        The Australian equivalent iPad? The ausPad… coming to a Harvey Norman and JBhiFi near you.

        Or not.

        • Wages have nothing to do with it. Their relative cost is due to calibration of the dollar, and as the Chinese have shown that can be pegged.

          Wage share is extremely low compared to profit share in historical terms. If profit share is at record highs, how can no one see that dividend extraction is also too costly?

          Why we aren’t producing anything is because we aren’t rewarding innovation sufficiently, and we are overly rewarding rent seekers and capital.

          I would reward labour, some people have no other form of enterprise than selling their labour. I would encourage innovation, and it is facile to say we don’t have capital, we have $1.4 trillion in super funds.

          What we do reward, up until recently, is people flipping a house ownership and a lick of paint for 0.5 to 2 years average wages.

          People see that sort of reward, they get incentivised themselves to do it.

          Production is mainly inhibited by bureaucratic compliance and fixed costs.

          Our fixed costs are high because of a land bubble, our bureaucratic compliance is punitive because we firstly opt not to punish our malign agents enough, and secondly our bogan is convinced of their intellectual exceptionalism and won’t take responsibility, thus seeking to offload blame elsewhere.

          • Alex Heyworth

            Good points, RP. I agree with all that. Maybe with a higher wage share, we would need less credit!

          • RP you say
            “Wage share is extremely low compared to profit share in historical terms.”
            I find this difficult to belive as most manufacturing industries in the east are reported to be in recession or close to it therefore little to no profit there. Are you speaking only about iron ore/coal miners here?
            Or if total wages to profit how much is being influenced by miners and banks in the overall picture.
            Would be keen to have back up to yr comment?

          • Alex Heyworth

            Anton, it depends a lot on whether you are talking about historical or prospective profits, and the time scale over which you are making the comparison.

            You might be right about the comparison just at the moment, given company tax receipts crashed after the GFC I presume company profits collapsed also, and probably have yet to recover to pre-GFC levels.

            But if you compare wage share over say the last decade with wage share over previous decades, there is no doubt that wage share has trended fairly steadily down since the early 1980s. This was the result of deliberate government policy (agreed to by the ACTU in the various wage and price accords) to slow wages growth to limit inflation. The trade off agreed at the time was in terms of the “social wage”, which was the government spending part of the bargain.

            The success of these policies laid the foundation for the good growth in the Australian economy following Keating’s “recession we had to have”. The rebound from the recession would have been much more painful and slow without the earlier groundwork.

            Howard and Costello were lucky to inherit power at a time when the economy was about to enter a long term growth cycle regardless of who was in charge. They did an OK job, but could have done a lot better given the circumstances.

          • RP the stats you are quoting are 4 years old.
            Much has changed since 2007/8 and so I still query yr statement’s accuracy regarding the current situation.

          • Alex Heyworth

            Profit share has probably come off quite a bit since 2008, RP, but your point is still valid. And the declining wage share is despite a higher participation rate than in 1975 as well.

          • Alex Heyworth

            PS, quote from the latest ABS National Accounts, for 2010-11

            The profits share (based on Gross operating surplus for Financial and Non–financial
            corporations) of Total factor income reached 28.4% in 2010–11 down from the highest
            share recorded in 2008–09 of 28.8%. The profits shares recorded since the late 1980s are
            at a distinctly higher level than those at any time since 1959–60. The profit share
            measure should not be interpreted as a direct measure of ‘profitability’ for which it is
            necessary to relate profits to the level of capital assets employed.

          • RP the stats you are quoting are 4 years old.
            Much has changed since 2007/8

            I don’t think you can assert that with any confidence, I would suggest you’re prejudicing yourself.

            5204.0 can be accessed for contemporary data.

            http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/[email protected]/Latestproducts/5204.0Main%20Features22010-11?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=5204.0&issue=2010-11&num=&view=

            52.8% wage share in 2010/11
            28.4% profit share in 2010/11

            and so I still query yr statement’s accuracy regarding the current situation.

            Hehe, yeah, it got wage share for workers and better for profit share.

            In the U.S, wage share I believe has now dropped below 50%.

    • It seems to boil down to two questions.

      1. How much of our dirt and which dirt do we want to convert to $

      2. How fast do we want to convert it.

      Some reckon all the dirt anywhere should be up for conversion, others reckon we should not be converting some dirt – carbon fuels, uranium etc.

      Some reckon we should be converting dirt to $ as fast as we can before the price falls others reckon the rate is something that should be limited by what the country can support without twisting itself out of shape.

      One obvious limiting factor is the supply of labour. That seems like a reasonable basis for limiting the rate of conversion. What more can you want than for all Australians who want to work in mining to have employment.

      Importing non- citizens to augment that labour supply Can only be justified if the extra national income from tax and royalties is worth the distortion and dislocation.

      From what i can see the cost of cranking up the rate of conversion is high and there is plenty of room for scepiticism about whether it is in the national interest as against the private interests of those holding rights to mine.

  12. An interesting program on Four Corners tonight:

    Boom Town: Running on empty

    Judging by the promo footage, it appears it may be about Moranbah in the sunshine state.

    Promo grabs featured all the usual stuff about rents, local businesses going to the wall, “unfair” competition for labor, cost of living pressures, etc.

    Might be worth a watch.