Queensland Resources Council

Telling the story

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-By Aleisha Parr

With three quarters of Queensland receiving disaster zone status after the extreme flooding which began in December 2010, the state’s resource sector has had a slow and difficult start to the New Year. Many businesses have been operating from remote locations until access to primary workplaces can be regained, while production at most mines and worksites has been stopped due to the rain and flood inundation.

Despite all of these challenges, 2011 could yet be a promising year for the state’s resource sector, says Michael Roche, CEO of the Queensland Resources Council (QRC). “It’s been an interesting start to 2011,” he notes, “but I am feeling very good about 2011 because I feel confident that throughout the calendar year we will see the go-ahead to a number of major projects.”

As CEO of the QRC, Mr Roche has a full appreciation for the state of Queensland’s resource industries and how easily they can be affected by these types of events – in fact that is his specialty. Developed in 2003 from what was originally the Queensland Mining Council, the QRC represents the interests of businesses working within the resource sector and those whose business helps support the sector. This range of firms includes mining and processing operations, exploration companies, oil and gas and power generators, as well as a host of support services including – but certainly not limited to – transportation, legal, accounting and financial. With over ninety Full local members and about thirty Explorer members, the Council plays a significant role in the development of the resources industry.

Of recent interest has been the Federal Government’s original proposal of the Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT), which would have been levied at 40% on all “super profits” from the extractive mining industry in Australia. This was a huge wake up call for the industry, who banded together with the help of the QRC to fight this drastic tax proposal. Although the Council’s efforts were successful and the RSPT was withdrawn and replaced with the much more appropriate Mineral Resources Rent Tax (MRRT), it was clear that the industry needed to be better promoted and understood for its important role throughout Queensland communities.

This led to the creation of the 2010 report “What Are Queensland Resources Worth to Me?” produced by the QRC. In it, the Council provides a variety of resources and first-hand testimonials which help to communicate how fully the Queensland economy depends on its resources sector to deliver significant benefits throughout the state through taxes and royalties paid to governments, shareholder returns and spending, both direct and indirect.

The report, undertaken in association with Australian public policy think tank Eldos Institute and the Central Queensland University, provided some ground-breaking revelations. Most remarkably, that over 90% of postcodes in Queensland received some expenditure by a resource company and that in the state capital of Brisbane, 22% of the work force relies on the resources sector, either directly or indirectly.

Says Mr Roche of these findings: “I think that came as a sort of surprise, so our job now is in promoting that story… we want to tell the stories of the individuals that both work in the industry directly, or who make their living by servicing the sector, and the lifestyles that they are able to achieve, the flexibility in work arrangements that they are able to achieve and the fact that they get paid well. So we’ll increasingly be, in 2011, aiming to tell the story of the resources sector, not just around the big numbers – and they are big – but also around the people’s stories.”

These individual stories are precisely why the “What Are Queensland Resources Worth to Me?” report was so powerful. The website devoted to this report (which can be found online at: http://www.queenslandeconomy.com.au/) allows for visitors to see the influences of the resources sector for any postcode entered, making each visit a personal and relevant experience. With maps highlighting the amount of money spent, jobs created, and royalties generated for each area of Queensland, the site clearly illustrates how important the resource sector has been and will continue to be to the state economy.

The take-home message here is an eye-opener, reports Mr Roche. “Think what the Queensland economy would be like if some of our opponents would have their way and shut us down overnight; that’s 21% of our economy under threat, and over 1/8 of all jobs. That’s the stark message that we do want to bring home.”

The QRC will have a busy year, continuing forward despite the setbacks that the last month and a half of rain and flooding has brought, and into a new phase of rebuilding and renewing. Even with last year’s successful campaign against the RSPT, there are always new challenges ahead for the Council. Of particular concern are recent issues arising in communities surrounding land taxes, whereby concerns over traditional agricultural areas must be addressed, and accommodations agreed upon. Further, a new debate has been raised over a possible carbon price implementation.

“We think we’ve dealt with the resource rate tax debate;” explains Mr Roche. “What’s now proposed is broadly acceptable to the industry – it’s not going to kill projects like the Super Profits Tax was going to – but our next challenge in Australia, for our industry, will be the Federal Government’s proposal to implement a carbon price. We don’t oppose a carbon price, but we will be wanting to tell the community about the dangers of a carbon price applied to trade-exposed industries at a time when our competitors are not facing the same carbon price arrangement, because it will actually become another resource tax.”

Through all of this, the QRC remains faithful to its members’ interests, advocating policy issues, providing access to relevant information and resources, and most importantly, sharing the stories of individuals affected by the resource industry so that the interests of the industry – and the Queensland economy – may be best represented and served.

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

November 21, 2018, 3:43 AM AEDT