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Wednesday 30th May 2012 - 10:02 pm
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Australians “admire their miners:” PM

by Alan Thornhill

Julia Gillard told mining industry leaders tonight that Australians “admire their success.”

Addressing a Minerals Week dinner in Canberra, the Prime Minister said:“Australians don’t begrudge hard work.

“… we admire your success.”

But she added: “Now, I know you’re not all in love with the language of “spreading the benefits of the boom”.

“I know everyone here works hard, competes in a tough global environment.

“You take big risks and you earn the big rewards.

“You build something.”

There have been sharp differences, over recent years, between the Federal Labor government and Australia’s miners.

Labor’s concept of spreading the wealth of the minerals boom has been at the heart of that trouble.

The government argues that the revenue it raises from its proposed carbon tax   will be used to spread the wealth of the mining sector to other Australians, through tax cuts, higher superannuation and pension increases.

Ms Gillard repeated that message tonight, saying Australians, outside the mining industry, must be remembered.

“…they work pretty hard in car factories and at panel beaters’ and in police stations and hospitals too.

“And here’s the rub,” the Prime Minister added.

“You don’t own the minerals.

“I don’t own the minerals.

“Governments only sell you the right to mine the resource.

“A resource we hold in trust for a sovereign people.

“They own it and they deserve their share,” the Prime Minister said.

Ms Gillard assured the miners, though, that the government will support the use of  “temporary overseas workers” in cases of “real need.”

But she declared again: “…our first priority is to secure jobs and training for Australian workers.”

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Alan Thornhill

Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
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