Mining industry shouldn’t apologise: John Howard

The appearance of former Prime Minister John Howard meant Diggers & Dealers started on an unusually political note.

Diggers & Dealers

Michael Cairnduff 5 Aug 2019
2 mins
John Howard addresses Diggers & Dealers

The 2019 Diggers & Dealers Mining Forum in Kalgoorlie-Boulder kicked off on an unusually political note.

Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard delivered a wide-ranging keynote address to one of the busiest forums in the past decade.

He shared his views on industry identities, in-favour commodities and the China-versus-United States battle for global dominance. All of this was interesting and insightful, but it was his strong and repetitive message for the industry to be unapologetic about its contribution to the nation in the face of “climate change zealots” that perhaps resonated the loudest.

Mr Howard said the forum took place at an interesting time for the broader mining sector. While there were many signs that provided great cause for hope and optimism, some areas of the resources sector remained under attack.

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He said what disappointed him as a former Prime Minister was: “The way we have allowed arguably the great success story for the Australian economy to be put under attack…you are almost asked to apologise for its existence and worry about its future.”

“I talk of course of the constant attacks in the name of climate change zealotry on sections of your industry, particularly the coal mining industry. There seems to be a collective determination in some sections of the Australian community to vilify what we do best.”

Mr Howard also took the opportunity to reinforce the role the mining industry played in the salvation of the Australian economy post the global financial crisis.

“There are a number of reasons why this country dodged the bullet, so to speak, at the time of the global financial crisis – one of them was the superb economic conditions – but more importantly of course was the contribution of the resources sector,” Mr Howard said.

“It perplexes me in another way that the two institutions in a collective sense that helped us through those difficult days were the mining industry and, dare I say it, the major banks in Australia.

“In 2009 there were only 11 banks around the world that had triple A credit ratings and four of those banks were Australian.”

Mr Howard’s address set the stage for what promises to be a busy and engaging Diggers & Dealers. More than 2000 attendees have headed to the heart of the Goldfields and will hear from 35 more presenters over the next two days, including the likes of Fortescue Metals Group, Roy Hill, Gold Road Resources, AngloGold Ashanti, Lynas Corporation and Gold Fields Australia.

Michael Cairnduff is a Director in Purple’s market-leading, bipartisan Government Relations team and an expert in the resources sector and in helping clients navigate channels of government at all levels. Contact Michael.

 Purple’s market-leading Investor Relations team is on the ground in Kalgoorlie-Boulder for the full three days of Diggers & Dealers.

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Michael Cairnduff More from author

Michael is a trusted government relations and public affairs adviser. He is the Director of Purple's Government Relations team and has a high level of experience within Australia’s key export sectors including resources, energy and agriculture as well as in the infrastructure industries that support those developments.

Michael provides specialist advice and facilitation support to public company boards and senior private company executives on government and stakeholder engagement; issues and reputation management; and public communications. He also plays an active advocacy role on behalf the key sectors within which his clients work.

Michael has 22 years of professional experience in technical communication and has a thorough understanding of existing heavy industries and downstream processing, as well as market trends and future capabilities as businesses in these sectors embrace new projects and technology to reduce their carbon footprint.

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