AMMA welcomed special guest Senator the Honourable Matt Canavan. to our Brisbane end of year event last week. He was joined by AMMA chief executive Steve Knott AM and AMMA’s newest board member, Melanie Allibon. Melanie is the Executive General Manager for People at Newcrest Mining. Director of Industry Services Tara Diamond adressed the gathering about the year that was, 2017.
Year in Review
AMMA was founded in August 1918 and will celebrate our Centenary in 2018.
AMMA’s vision has been updated for 2018 to ‘creating a brighter future for all Australians’. The AMMA brand will also refreshed at the beginning of next year to reflect to reflect who and what we represent. We took considerable feedback from members through a recent survey and the AMMA board and AMMA’s new tagline is Australia’s Resources and Energy Industry Group.
On that point, there is no doubt that Australia’s resources and energy industry employers head into 2018 at a time of transformative change.
Our industry continues to do a great deal of heavy lifting for our economy thanks to the rewards we are now reaping following decades of investment and major project construction. The industry contributes more tax to the Australian community than any other industry – over $12bn per annum. This contribution is vital. Not only to the economy but to the communities in which we operate and live in.
At a time when our industry and the companies who operate it are demonised, under constant and considerable criticism, face ongoing business and economic distribution, the industry is on track to deliver another record high, with export earnings set to reach $215 billion in 2016–17 and 2017–18.
Media has features the BIS Oxford Economics forecast that the mining investment slump is almost over due to mining investment starting to rise, maintenance and exploration spending increasing and commodity prices higher across the board. The forecaster predicts the downturn in LNG investment will take another 12 to 18 months to recover and that will make total resources investment continue to fall.
Yet the resources and energy sector continues to forge ahead as a key driver and pillar of Australia’s economy.
Ensuring Australians understand the integral contributions resources and energy employers make to the country’s wellbeing has and will continue to be a key focus for AMMA.
AMMA, more than ever before, will be focused on ensuring the industry’s social license to operate is not taken for granted.
In 2017, AMMA has been at the forefront of calling for and defining reforms that assist employers in the resources and energy industry operate, generate employment and prosperity.
On the policy front it has been a weighty year. Highlights from 2017 include;
In January AMMA wrote to the Minister for Employment, Senator the Honourable Michaelia Cash, in response to the growing trend in enterprise agreement making towards overly technical interpretation of the Regulations as a means to refuse formal approval, specifically relating to Notice of Representation Rights. As suggested by AMMA, the Minister made an immediate amendment to the Fair Work Regulations and later introduced legislation to provide employers relief on the issue.
February the ABCC was re-established post the December 2016 Royal Accent. This legislation, importantly for elements of our industry, now extends to offshore facilities due to AMMA’s advocacy efforts. The Turnbull Coalition Government and those crossbenchers who voted in support, made a statement they will not be bullied by union militancy and has put in place a platform to stand up to the damage lawless disruption causes our economy.
Moving to April when significant changes to Australia’s skilled migration programs were announced. Whilst these announcements were not foreseen, AMMA represented member’s requirements strongly and was successful in getting a large number of occupations reclassified that had been removed from the program. Steve is on Minister Dutton’s Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration, through this and other avenues AMMA will continue with robust advocacy to ensure access to specific occupations which are critical to the operations of employers, particularly multi-nationals, are available.
Mid- year saw a number of Fair Work Commission appointments that continued the Coalition Government approach to appoint high calibre, well qualified and experienced professionals to the Commission. These appointments are vital as they seek to address the balance of appointments and gender diversity in the commission.
2017 saw the culmination of AMMA advocacy efforts for many years on improved governance and oversight of registered organisations through several separate pieces of legislation. This includes the establishment of the separate Registered Organisations Commission, new protections for ‘whistle blowers’ and the introduction of a criminal offence for giving a registered organisation or an individual associated a corrupting benefit.
Still at hand is the very significant Ensuring Integrity Bill which seeks to reintroduce a public interest test on union mergers. Much has been said about the need to apply a public interest test in this context, as it applies commonly elsewhere in our nation’s laws. As you know, AMMA is not only leading the advocacy charge in this area but also running industry litigation through the Fair Work Commission on the proposed CFMEU, MUA and TCFU merger or as Steve commonly refers to as the CFMEU takeover. The majority of AMMA members are contributing to this industry wide litigation due to potential unprecedented and expanded coverage across the mining, oil and gas, rail, road transport, logistics and offshore and shipping sectors; and the proven militancy and lawlessness of these unions, over many years. In the 2014-15 annual period, the CFMEU and the MUA reported a combine drevenue of $140 million.
2017 was the stage for Australia’s national energy debate. The debate dominated politics, the media and lead to the October release of the Coalition Governments National Energy Guarantee.
There were a number of state government movements worth noting and some unfortunately of concern. Specifically to Queensland was the introduction of industrial manslaughter in the Work Health and Safety Act. Sparked by tragic public safety incidents, two new criminal offences have been created affecting workplaces with penalties up to $10 million and 20 years’ imprisonment for an ‘employer’ or ‘senior officer’.
We anticipate the returned Palaszczuk Labor Government will seek to replicate in the Mining and Quarrying and Coal Mining Safety Acts. Also in Queensland but now a sweeping trend in Labor State Governments is the introduction of Labour Hire Licensing laws. The precise wording of bill rounds out a swell of anti-business state based legislation that does not support companies creating dynamic investment and employment opportunities.
There are key themes coming from resources and energy industry employers in 2017.
The changing nature of work, Industry 4.0, automation and digitisation, call it what you will, how work is undertaken in our industry is changing. Employers are in the midst of changing how they operate and the required large scale workforce transition.
The workforce and skills our industry requires moving forward is different and will be exacerbated as we head into another skills shortage that some are already feeling the impact.
Leading on from skills, is the unprecedented focus on workforce diversity. AMMA started the Australian Women in Resources Alliance, AWRA, five years ago to assist employers build inclusion and diversity capability and we are well placed to report while still a way to go, there is currently remarkable levels of activity being undertaken to transform our workforces.
Safety remains steadfast as our industries key focus. Ensuring people return home from work to their families and loved ones remains resolute. A key theme coming from this safety focus is a specific focus on initiatives and programs focused on the mental health of individuals. In 2018 AMMA will be establishing a mental health and wellness Industry leadership Advisory Board to drive industry wide initiatives and narrative on this focus.
While we have paused to reflect on 2017, AMMA is focused on the future of our industry, creating a brighter future for all Australians and will continue to support you in your endeavours in 2018 and beyond.
Pop in your diaries the 1st of August 2018 when AMMA will be hosting its annual Gala Dinner as a special Centenary celebration. It will be held in Melbourne and we hope you are able to join us to mark this significant milestone.