MARK METHERELL June 11, 2012
Absent ... the state budget will keep NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell away from the summit.
THE Prime Minister's summit this week to tackle Australia's patchwork economy has itself drawn a patchwork response.
The Brisbane talkfest has failed to lure any household names from the mining industry and even the Premier of the host state, Campbell Newman, as of yesterday, was not listed to attend.
The Premier of booming Western Australia, Colin Barnett, is also not expected to turn up, nor the NSW Premier, Barry O'Farrell, who will be absent because of the state budget, leaving Victoria's Ted Baillieu as the only major state premier scheduled to be there.
Trade unions will be well-represented with 15 expected, about three times the number of representatives from the minerals sector, whose most senior representative will be David Peever, the managing director (Australia) of Rio Tinto. Aside from government ministers, among the few well-known identities will be the governor of the Reserve Bank, Glenn Stevens, and Westpac's chief executive, Gail Kelly.
A spokeswoman for Ms Gillard's office said yesterday: "A broad cross-section of leading businesses and organisations, large and small, across key industries have been invited to the economic forum in Brisbane. This includes senior representatives from the mining industry." Ms Gillard yesterday released the agenda for the summit, to be attended by about 130, including community group leaders and industry lobby groups.
She said Australia's patchwork economy and the high Australian dollar would be discussed at opening sessions of Wednesday's forum.
Other topics include innovations to boost productivity, infrastructure, workforce skills and education and deregulation reform.
Ms Gillard said that while Australia's economy was among the strongest in the world, the sustained high dollar and the patchwork nature of the economy ''means not all Australians are feeling these economic benefits''.
The government's response to placate unions angered by the approval for Gina Rinehart's Roy Hill mine to import 1700 foreign guest workers moved ahead yesterday with a joint venture to advertise resource industry jobs on an industry website.
Minna Knight, an executive director of a resource industry employment group, AMMA, said government and industry had agreed to collaborate on posting job advertisements for big resource projects, including those seeking foreign workers.
The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, defended himself yesterday against government accusations that he was seeking to spread gloom when the latest economic figures were showing Australia had the strongest economy of any developed nation.
''I think I've been absolutely realistic,'' Mr Abbott said. ''Now, hitting our economy with a carbon tax, hitting our economy with a mining tax, taking workplace relations changes too far with the abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, these are all very bad moves that will seriously damage our economy in the short term and in the long term.''
The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, said the economic forum would provide potential for further economic advances.
''Almost alone in the world, we have the opportunity to convert our current economic success into lasting gains, building not just a stronger economy but a fairer society as well,'' he said.
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