The Australian Human Rights Commissioner Helen Szoke has expressed her disappointment over the tone of the debate surrounding the Federal Government’s new Enterprise Migration Agreement, which will allow Roy Hill to sponsor up to 1,715 workers for the three-year construction phase through the 457 visa program.

“It is important that no workers are discriminated against and this should be a baseline consideration in employing workers,” Dr Szoke said.

“We are a country built on the work of people from all over the world and this debate must be looked at in that context.”

Capital expenditure has increased across the economy, with the mining sector driving the majority of 6.1 per cent growth according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The trend volume for estimated building and structures rose an estimated 10.5 per cent seasonally adjusted, while the trend volume for investment for equipment, plant and machinery fell by 0.1 per cent,

Legislation to establish an independent expert scientific committee to provide advice on impacts of coal seam gas and large coal mining proposals on our water resources has passed the House of Representatives.


Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke said the legislation would allow for more rigorous scientific assessment of coal seam gas and large coal mining proposals, in particular how these proposals will affect underground water resources and our rivers.


"I know that there is significant community concern about the impact of coal seam gas and coal mining developments on our water resources," Mr Burke said.


"That's why the Gillard Government has acted to create The Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development.


"We want to make sure that decisions by governments in relation to coal and coal seam gas developments are informed by the most rigorous scientific evidence available, in particular where those developments are likely to have a significant impact on water.


"The Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development will play a vital role in ensuring that independent scientific advice is available to all governments when they consider applications for these types of developments.


"In this way, we have established the independent committee and we have funded it.


"It will provide local communities and other stakeholders with accessible and reliable information as well as giving the coal seam gas and mining industries greater guidance on the sustainable management of water resources in areas where they propose developments."


An interim committee was set up in January pending formal establishment of the Independent Expert Scientific Committee. The interim committee has already provided valuable independent advice to the Australian Government and will continue until it hands over to the new committee from 1 July, 2012.


The legislation, which amends the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 to set up the committee, will now be introduced into the Senate.


Mr Burke said the committee would provide advice on research priorities that address critical gaps in scientific understanding, and oversee research commissioned by myself in line with those research priorities.


"When requested, the committee will provide further evidence to inform regulatory decisions made by governments," Mr Burke said.


"It will provide advice on options for increasing the quality and accessibility of knowledge available on the impacts to water resources from coal seam gas and large coal mining developments, for example, in the collection of data.


"The committee's work will be supported by a national partnership agreement with relevant state and territory governments that will require them to seek and take account of the committee's advice when considering approvals for coal seam gas and large coal mining developments.


"So far Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia have signed the agreement – negotiations with Victoria and the Northern Territory are continuing."


Mr Burke said the committee would also provide advice on the priority areas for bioregional assessments and oversee their delivery. The interim committee has started work on the first five bioregional assessments in regions facing significant levels of coal seam gas and coal mining developments, such as the Galilee, Gunnedah, Gloucester and Clarence-Moreton basins.


The Australian Government has provided $200 million to establish the new Independent Expert Scientific Committee and assist states that are parties to the national partnership agreement to introduce the necessary reforms to seek the committee's advice when deciding on coal seam gas and coal mining applications.


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Infrastructure supply specialist UGL has announced it has secured $190 million in new orders to supply and maintain freight locomotives to a number of blue-chip Australian customers.

The South Australian Government has announced it will invest $38.3  million for the construction of a dedicated centre of training excellence for the mining, engineering, defence and transport industries.

The Queensland Government has given conditional approval for the $6.4 billion Alpha Coal Project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, the first mine in the region.

The Queensland Government has approved a major 44 kilometre sector of pipeline within the Callide Infrastructure Corridor State Development Area (CICSDA), a major section of the 435 kilometre gas transmission pipeline for the Gladstone project.

The Tasmanian Government has granted a mining lease for the long awaited Livingstone project near Tullah, in the state’s north-west.

The Western Australian Government has officially opened Fortescue Metals Group’s (FMG) new iron ore berth in Port Hedland.

The United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf has confirmed Australia’s limits of 11 million square kilometres of continental shelf, providing clarity over areas which Australia has exclusive rights.

The Federal Government has approved the first Enterprise Migration Agreement (EMA), granting permission to the new iron ore mining Roy Hill to seek skilled overseas labour.

Committed investment to increase the capacity of Australia’s mining industry at the end of April 2012 was a record $260.8 billion, an increase of 12 per cent from October 2011 according to the Mining Industry Major Projects - April 2012, released by the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE).

The Queensland Coordinator-General has announced the approval of Rio Tinto’s planned $1.45 billion South of the Embley bauxite mining extension on Cape York. The project is expected to enxtend the life of the bauxite mining operations for another 40 years.

Australia’s consulting engineering, architecture and associated industries are set to experience a chaotic next three years with continual restructures required in order to remain globally competitive, according to Consult Australia’s 2012 Economic Forecast report.

The Report, written by former BHP Chief Economist, Geoffrey Bills is considered one of the industry’s most valuable economic predictors and is used by many of Australia’s largest firms, including Parsons Brinkerhoff, SMEC, Hyder, GHD and AECOM.

In the short-term, the Report forecasts a fairly rosy future for the industry.

The backlog of work in engineering construction is set to sustain high levels of activity until 2016 with firms operating in this space expected to experience 22 per cent growth over the next 12 months.

Consult Australia CEO, Megan Motto said this signifies a welcome commitment to infrastructure development in the short-term but warned it wasn’t all good news.

Cougar Energy has announced that its CEO, Dr Len Walker, will step down from his position, but will remain as the company’s Executive Director.

The Chief Executive of Boral, Mark Selway, has stepped down, effective immediately, after two years in the position.  Ross Batstone, currently Division Managing Director Boral Building Products, has been appointed Acting Chief Executive Officer while a successor to Mr Selway is recruited.

Newcrest Mining, the country’s largest gold mining company, has announced the appointment of Scott Langford as the company’s General Counsel and Company Secretary, effective from the start of July.

Gold mining company Newcrest Mining has taken top honours as the country’s most attractive employer at this year’s 2012 Randstad Awards. Coming in second place was national broadcaster ABC, while Virgin Australia took third place.

The Queensland Government has announced it will move to scrap the proposed expansion of the Abbot Point multi-cargo facility (MCF) after it has become ‘abundantly apparent’ that industry does not support the move.

The Western Australian Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced it has granted approval to Toro Energy to construct the state’s first uranium mine, after the proposal was ‘meticulously examined by the board.’

The Queensland Coordinator-General has declared the $2.2 billion coal terminal at Yarwun in the Port of Gladstone a ‘significant project’, meaning the project will now undergo an environmental assessment.

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