Australians are not seeing enough economic benefits from the country’s once-in-a-century mining boom, according to a new report.
Further, Australia should consider a Norwegian-style sovereign wealth fund to share around the benefits of the mining boom, the union report argues.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) released its report on the resources boom, Sharing the Benefits, on Tuesday.
“We have experienced a major boom but have relatively little to show from it,” CFMEU president Tony Maher said in the report.
“Too much has gone into the pockets of shareholders and management, overwhelmingly based overseas, and too little to the Australian community that owns the resources.”
‘We don’t agree’: Minerals Council
The study contrasts with a recent report commissioned by the Minerals Council, which said the benefits of the mining boom were trickling down to the community.
The Minerals Council report said the mining industry spent $35 billion on community infrastructure and local suppliers in 2011-12 and paid about $21 billion in taxes and royalties.
According to the CFMEU report, most of the $35 billion was spent on local contractors and suppliers to service mines.
The report found the thriving resources sector had boosted jobs but that the fly-in, fly-out nature of the employment failed to address a deficit in mining towns’ social infrastructure, while increasing cost-of-living pressures for the towns’ permanent communities.
And the share of income going to employee compensation has declined over the past 20 years, the report found, from 30 per cent to 20 per cent.
The CFMEU report argued Norway had done a better job of maximising the permanent gains from oil and gas extraction in the North Sea.
It called for Australia to follow the Norwegian model and establish an Australia Development Fund to use some of the proceeds of resources development to invest in infrastructure and industry development.
The report also said a greater deployment of profits-based taxes would reduce levels of speculation during resources boom periods.
Former MP Tony Windsor will formally launch the report at an event in Sydney on Tuesday.