Parties challenged to wake up

RESOURCE companies that spent more than $850 million in corporate purchases, salaries and investments in Bowen Basin communities in the last year alone, need political assurance about their two biggest economic challenges – skills shortages and energy security.

That was the message delivered by Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche at the QME Mining Industry Conference in Mackay yesterday, as he challenged the ALP and the Coalition to respond to the future needs of the resources sector.

Mr Roche said while the major parties appeared at pains to emphasise low immigration targets, overseas workers would be needed to fill short-term spikes in workforce requirements for the predicted mining supercycle.

The National Resource Sector Employment Taskforce Report Resourcing the Future, released this month, highlights resource sector skills needs and shortfalls including 45,000 construction phase jobs and 61,600 new mining jobs and 3200 operational jobs in the LNG sector by 2015.

It also identified shortfalls in key skills areas including 36,000 tradespeople, 1700 engineers and 3000 geoscientists.

“With the challenge of filling 45,000 construction jobs in the next few years, the parties are yet to respond to the taskforce’s proposal for Enterprise Migration Agreements to fill the workforce requirements,” said Mr Roche.

“Industry needs certainty and clarity on when, where and how the next Australian government proposes to lead and engage with industry and other stakeholders to deliver a growing workforce, if the anticipated supercycle is not to be squandered.”

Mr Roche said the country’s transition to a low-emissions economy relied on the major parties positioning energy efficiency as a foundation climate change response.

“A first-class national future will not just happen, particularly without a vibrant growing resources sector, and, the great sleeper issue of this campaign – energy security,” he said.

“The next federal election in 2013 will be too late to provide policy solutions to this challenge.”

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