Inquiry to put spotlight on financial sector's treatment of resources

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt has welcomed the Trade and Investment Growth Committee’s inquiry into the financial sector’s treatment of Australia’s export industries.

The Committee, chaired by the Member for Dawson George Christensen, has announced the inquiry’s terms of reference to examine investment decisions of major financial institutions.

“I am pleased that the resources sector will be a key focus of this inquiry that will look into recent announcements by some banks and superannuation companies that they will withdraw investment support for the coal industry,” Minister Pitt said.

“It is of great concern to me that a legitimate industry like coal mining, which makes a significant contribution to the national economy and employs thousands of Australians, is being held back by what can only be described as corporate activism.

“I’m not just talking about the big miners, but the 'Mum and Dad' small businesses who’ve told me they can’t access insurance or loans simply because they have some exposure to the coal industry.

“People like David Hartigan in Mackay whose company Field Engineers provides technical support to the mining sector is facing a 300 per cent increase in his insurance bill.

“Last year alone, the coal industry provided around $5 billion in royalties to help governments fund the services and infrastructure Australians rely on.

“And despite what activists may say, it will continue to do so for many more years to come,” Minister Pitt said.

“There are currently over 70 proposals for new coal mines, or expansion of existing ones, that are at various stages of planning and development.

“The number of Australians employed in coal mining increased by 22 per cent in the three months to November to reach a nine year high, and 264 thousand people are employed across the whole resources sector, up nearly 10 percent.

“The new projects currently being planned can add thousands more jobs to that number.

“It is only fair that banks, superannuation companies and other financial institutions that are withdrawing investment in sections of the resources sector, explain to all those women and men why their jobs are not worth supporting,” Minister Pitt said.

“Australians should know the approach and motivation of these institutions when it comes to supporting Australia’s export industries.

“I encourage all resources companies with an interest in this issue to make a submission to the inquiry, which is expected to begin hearings next month.”

Terms of reference can be found here.

Media contact: Minister Pitt's office 02 6277 7180