Ian Macfarlane
Ian Macfarlane Bev Lacey

Policy uncertainty a major concern to resources chiefs

THE Queensland Resources Council's latest quarterly sentiment survey of the state's resource sector chiefs had highlighted a laundry list of concerns for their businesses over the coming years.

Red tape, regulation, energy, the global macroeconomic environment and skills were among the issues raised.

Every quarter, the QRC conducts its State of the Sector CEO sentiment survey that reveals what top Queensland resources chiefs predict will affect their businesses over the coming year.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the results showed one of the main concerns was the decision to institute a 50 per cent renewable energy target.

"We know that energy security and supply is a big concern to all households and businesses across the country, and our industry leaders have reflected that in our latest survey,” Mr Macfarlane said.

One boss said the target was, "madness given the experience in South Australia and the fact that the Queensland Government would institute this policy given the quality of coal resources we have in this state and the recent lessons in SA demonstrates just how far out of touch this government is”.

Mr Macfarlane also said increases in electricity were making it hard to do business.

"Our survey found that our members say the wholesale electricity price is out of control and believe both state and federal governments are not acting to fix energy policy and the uncertainty it creates,” Mr Macfarlane said.

For the five years prior to 2016, policy uncertainty and poor regulation didn't top the concerns facing the chief executives in the resources sector.

"Alarmingly, the results in each of the four quarters in 2016 consistently ranked policy uncertainty and poor regulation as the number one concern,” Mr Macfarlane said.

"In fact, over the past two years, not one of the respondents has said policy uncertainty and poor regulation wasn't adversely impacting their organisation. Given the index is a forward looking forecast, the results illustrate the anticipated poor policy environment throughout 2017.”

The election of US President Donald Trump also featured in the results, but resources chiefs were split 50/50 on whether the election of Trump would be good or bad for business.

Fifteen per cent of survey respondents said the election of President Trump would not affect them at all.

Nearly 90 per cent of chief executives said red tape impacted upon their business.

"We constantly call on governments at all levels to loosen the red tape that is strangling one of Queensland's economic pillars, from local government rate hikes, to changing state legislative goal posts, to the latest, the Federal Court ruling over the Native Title Act and Indigenous Land Use Agreements,” Mr Macfarlane said.

The survey also revealed, that after many years of downturn, the industry was forecasting a skills shortage now the sector was rebounding, .

"The sector needs to adopt a concerted approach to fostering skills,” Mr Macfarlane said.

"The sentiment survey shows that more than 40 per cent of CEOs expect a shortage of skills to impact on their operations in the next 12 months.

"Skills shortages are different from labour shortages with 44 per cent of CEOs expecting to increase their workforce over the next 12 months.”

Only 15 per cent of QRC's CEOs see no problems in accessing talent and experience in the next 12 months; conversely 11 per cent see their workforce reducing over the next 12 months.

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