Sen­a­tors re­new call for iron ore in­quiry

Pilbara News - - Business - Tom Zaun­mayr

Durack MP Melissa Price has poured cold wa­ter on a re­newed push for an in­quiry into the iron ore price col­lapse.

Sen­a­tor Nick Xenophon and Se­nate can­di­date Luke Bolton re­newed the push for an in­quiry into the col­lapse and its im­pact on WA af­ter first call­ing for it in May last year.

Ms Price said the iron ore in­dus­try op­er­ated within a global free mar­ket and as long as laws were com­plied with the Govern­ment had no in­ten­tion of in­ter­fer­ing. “There is no doubt that the highly com­pet­i­tive global re­sources in­dus­try is fac­ing short­term chal­lenges,” she said.

“As the chief econ­o­mist of the Depart­ment of In­dus­try, In­no­va­tion and Sci­ence has re­cently noted, slower eco­nomic growth in emerg­ing economies is likely to limit con­sump­tion growth and a sig­nif­i­cant price re­cov­ery for com­modi­ties in the short term.”

Mr Xenophon said there was ini­tially sup­port for the in­quiry by then Prime Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott and Trea­surer Joe Hockey, but claimed it was “killed off ” af­ter lob­by­ing by BHP Bil­li­ton, Rio Tinto and Gina Rine­hart.

“WA is do­ing it tough with the col­lapse in the iron ore price and if there is any sug­ges­tion it has come about as a re­sult of cal­cu­lated moves to dump ca­pac­ity on the open mar­ket then Aus­tralians need to know,” he said. Mr Bolton said it was im­por­tant to find out if WA had been “short-changed” by big min­ers flood­ing the mar­ket with iron ore.

“If WA has been dud­ded then that’s hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars that could have been put into hospi­tals, roads and schools,” he said.

“Last year the ma­jor par­ties weren’t pre­pared to stand up to the vested in­ter­ests by sup­port­ing a straight for­ward Se­nate in­quiry.”

The col­lapse in the price of iron ore from $180 to $40 in the past two years has caused a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar hit to Aus­tralia’s econ­omy and to WA in par­tic­u­lar.

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