The Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth has commenced an inquiry into the prudential regulation of investment in Australia’s export industries.
The inquiry will investigate the potential impact on investment opportunities for Australian exporters of changes in practices by banks, insurers and superannuation funds, as well as the advice and guidance provided by financial regulators which affects the investment opportunities for Australian exporters.
The Committee Chair, George Christensen MP, said given the importance of exports to Australia’s economy, the inquiry will be an opportunity to examine an issue which could have significant ramifications for the country’s economic recovery from COVID-19 and beyond.
“Exports from sectors such as agriculture, resources, and defence manufacturing generate billions of dollars for the Australian economy and attract a significant amount of investment. If there are changes in the financial services sector which impact on Australia’s exporting industries, particularly those in regional areas, the Parliament must take an interest,” Mr Christensen said.
The Committee Deputy Chair, Ged Kearney MP, added that “the inquiry will consider the possible opportunities and challenges that could arise for Australian exporters from any changes in financial services sector practices”.
Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, the Hon. Keith Pitt MP said he is pleased that the resources sector will be a key focus of the inquiry, looking into recent announcements by some banks and superannuation companies that they will withdraw investment support for the coal industry.
“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.”
Minister Pitt said small businesses can’t access insurance or loans 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.”
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 per cent. Minister Pitt noted the more than 70 proposals for new coal mines, or expansion of existing ones, that are at various stages of planning and development 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,” he said.
“I encourage all resources companies with an interest in this issue make a submission to the inquiry, which is expected to begin hearings next month,” the Minister concluded.
Submissions from interested individuals, businesses and organisations are invited by 31 March 2021.
More information about the inquiry, including the full terms of reference and details on how to lodge a submission, is available on the Committee’s webpage. The preferred method of receiving submissions is by electronic format lodged online using a My Parliament account.