Lang Hancock, “Boost mining confidence, Mr Lynch,”
The Australian, September 15, 1976, p. 10, as a letter to the editor.
Mr Lynch is right on target (9/11) in attacking the fifth columnists within certain trade unions. He should have followed this up by laying the same charge against those ecologist groupings who are being led by the same subversives.
As far as nervy bosses are concerned, he should remember that he has done nothing to remove the root cause of the nerves which can only be done by laying a solid foundation on which the restore confidence in mining, which is the foundation on which all civilisation rests.
To restore confidence, Mr Lynch should:
(1) Immediately remove from the statute book the 33 1/3rd Reserve Bank “No-interest-bearing” deposit.
(2) Give rights to mine and security of tenure right from the discovery to the production stage of minerals. At the moment they can be confiscated at any stage, even after millions have been spent on them.
(3) Make mines free of export licences.
(4) Undertake not to change the rules once the ball has bounced.
Reverting to (1) above: How can an investor have confidence when he knows that having run all the risks and raised some hundreds of millions of capital, he could be compelled at any moment to provide an additional one-third of risk capital and lodge it with the Reserve Bank, bearing no interest?
(2) above: How can Mr Lynch expect investors to have confidence if they know that after spending hundreds of millions of dollars in discovery and engineering studies there is no certainty that they are ever going to be issued with a right to mine, or be allowed to export their product after they have developed a mine and got it into production or be free of confiscation?
(3) above: How can Mr Lynch expect millions to be invested in a mine, if the end result is that they may not be allowed to export and sell the product?
(4) above: How can Mr Lynch expect investors to have confidence when they know that the Government may change the rules and add further burdening costs or crippling bureaucratic restrictions once they have established a successful mine?
Mr Snedden had a better understanding of the fundamentals of confidence-building when it was brought home to him very forcibly in New York on December 12, 1974. He then said: “I believe if the individual is successful, then the community is successful … I also believe that the discoverer should have the right to develop and exploit his discovery … Australia had to set some rules but those rules and rights must be outlines before the discovery occurs and all agreements that are made stand.”
As Mr Lynch controls the purse strings he would have no difficulty in insisting that all State mining acts should guarantee these conditions, which Mr Snedden understood so well.
Seeing that the implementation of above (in order to restore confidence in Australia) would cost Mr Lynch nothing in money and nothing in ideology, I suggest, Mr Editor, that you give him no scope to fill your newspaper with an avalanche of words until he does undertake these positive confidence-building actions.
If Mr Lynch can rebuild some of the confidence that the overseas investor has lost in Australia, then with the establishment of just one large mine alone, he could do much to save the value of the Australian dollar.
We are witnessing the spectacle of the Australian Government going into debt for a sum of $300 million to bolster our exchange, whereas the establishment of Marandoo Iron mine alone would bring in $1000 million of much-needed foreign exchange without the Australian taxpayer having to incur any interest burden.
Actions, not words, please Mr Lynch, please.
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- John Singleton-Ita Buttrose interview (1977)
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