NEWSFLASH! In September I will join The Conversation as its Business and Economy Editor. I have been honoured to work at The Age for the past ten years, originally alongside the legendry Tim Colebatch, and for the past four years as economics editor in my own right.

At The Conversation, my job will be to make the best thinking from Australia's 40 univerisites accessible to the widest possible audience. That means you. From the new year I will also write a weekly column.

On this site are most of the important things I have written for Fairfax and the ABC over the past few decades. I recommend the Search function. The site is a record for you, as well as me.

I'll continue to post great things from The Conversation and other places here, and also on Twitter and Facebook. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Miners complaining about high costs? Spare us. Henry



Australia's big mining companies have created the high-cost culture to which they are now objecting, former Treasury Secretary Ken Henry says.

They are complaining that Australia's costs are increasing at the same time as they pushing them up, he told an audience at the Academy of Social Science Tuesday night.

“Business people talk a lot about Australia being a high-cost low productivity country, but the fundamental reason labour costs have been increasing at the rate that they have is the mining boom, he said in answer to questions.

“Miners and energy producers are paying more for labour, because they want to.”

“In order get labour to work in the mines they have to pay handsome wages to attract the labour out of the places from which it has been attracted.”

“That's the fundamental reason why costs have been increasing in the sector. I'm not saying its the only reason, but it is the fundamental reason – strong demand for Australia's minerals and energy.”

“What can we do about it? We can find ways of boosting labour productivity without it flowing through into increased wages. We did this in the second half of the 1980s. It was a pretty unique period in Australian history.”


In today's Canberra Times and Sydney Morning Herald



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