The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia (CME) welcomes measures announced in the 2020-21 Federal Budget that will incentivise investment and increase training and development opportunities for the mining and resources sector.
CME Chief Executive Paul Everingham said Treasurer Josh Frydenberg had faced a tough task in framing the Budget given the significant challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But with WA mining and resources generating a record $172 billion in exports in 2019-20, Mr Everingham said it was vital the Federal Government continued to support the critical role the sector was playing in Australia’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
“It’s extremely pleasing to see the Federal Government introducing measures that will encourage companies to continue to invest in our sector,” Mr Everingham said.
“While Western Australian mining and resources operations have been able to safely and effectively continue throughout the pandemic, global competition is increasingly intense and we can never take it for granted that this investment will continue.
“Lifting the annual turnover ceiling to $5 billion from $500 million for businesses to be able to write off the full value of any eligible assets they may purchase is just one measure that encourages investment.
“Changes to the Research and Development Tax Incentive – a scheme that is crucial for operators in the emerging new energy and battery materials space – will provide an additional $2 billion in funding, lifting the rate for small claimants and streamlining the eligible premiums larger businesses can claim if they want to invest more in R&D.
“CME and its members strongly support the tax loss carry-back changes, by which losses incurred to 30 June 2022 for companies with a turnover of up to $5 billion can be offset against prior profits made in or after the 2018-19 financial year, on which tax has been paid.
“We also recognise the strong commitment to investing in productive infrastructure projects across Australia, including investment in transport infrastructure in Western Australia’s Pilbara, Goldfields and Kimberley regions.”
Mr Everingham welcomed the Budget’s strong focus on training and development opportunities, including growing opportunities for women in the workforce.
The Budget includes $1.2 billion to create 100,000 new apprenticeships and traineeships, with a 50 per cent wage subsidy for businesses who employ them, and funding for 2000 Indigenous students to complete Year 12 through the Clontarf Foundation.
A total of $240 million was allocated to fund:
- new cadetships and apprenticeships for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics
- women’s job creation and entrepreneurialism
- women’s safety at work and at home
“As a sector, we are working hard to create the workforce of tomorrow and providing training opportunities for the next generation of skilled workers is very much a part of that,” Mr Everingham said.
“CME and its members are also strongly committed to continuing to increase the representation of women in the sector.
“A survey conducted earlier in the year indicated a little more than 20 per cent of WA’s mining and resources workers are women, well above the national average for the sector.
“But that percentage still isn’t high enough and we welcome Federal Budget measures that will create more opportunities for women.
“Likewise, the sector is proud of its strong track record of Indigenous participation but there remains scope for growth in this area.”
Mr Everingham also welcomed Budget initiatives aimed at improving mental health outcomes for Australians.
These include doubling the number of Medicare-funded psychological therapy sessions through the Better Access Initiative and increased funding for Lifeline, headspace, Beyond Blue and Kids Helpline.
“The impact of COVID-19 has highlighted the key issue of mental health in the workforce for all sectors,” Mr Everingham said.
“CME and its members have worked hard together to ensure our workers and their families have the best support they can possibly get.
“We welcome the additional assistance being provided by the Federal Government in this space.”