| NEW YORK, Sept 24
NEW YORK, Sept 24 Australian Foreign Minister
Bob Carr, standing in for an ill Prime Minister Julia Gillard,
tried on Monday to dispel the common notion that Australia's
economy is hostage to slackening growth in China, Asia's largest
In a speech written for Gillard, Carr said it would be too
simplistic to say that a generation of Australians have
experienced economic growth because of only commodity exports
and price increases.
"Australia's economy today is less reliant on our natural
resources and our mining boom than you might believe," Carr
said, reading from the text.
"Mining employs 2 percent of Australians. In the next four
years, we expect three times as many new jobs to be created in
health care, social assistance, education and training as will
be created in mining," he told a luncheon co-sponsored by the
Asia Society and the Economic Club of New York.
China is Australia's most valuable export market, but the
drop in demand has led to a severe decline in key commodity
prices such as Iron ore.
The commodity boom has helped to shield Australia's $1.4
trillion economy from the worst of the global financial crisis.
Spot iron ore prices have fallen 25 percent year to date,
cutting into both profits of the miners as well as government
tax receipts .
In fact, miner Fortescue Metals Group cut its
planned investment spending for fiscal 2013 by $1.6 billion to
$4.6 billion earlier this month.
Giant mining company BHP Billiton Ltd in
August shelved a $20 billion copper and gold mine expansion in
Australia, and last week put on hold a plan for a $3 billion
coking coal mine.
Mining magnate Gina Rinehart and Australia's richest woman
added her frustration saying the country was becoming too
expensive for mining companies and she could hire workers for
less than $2 a day in Africa.
Gillard, at the time, denounced the statement saying it was
not Australia's way and that instead she supported "proper wages
and decent working conditions."
The demand for mining industry workers has offset the
declining manufacturing sector. However mining employment fell
for the first time in three years, a report earlier this month
showed, highlighting the concerns of both industry and the
Carr reminded the audience that domestic consumption
accounted for 55 percent of economic output and that investment
in production of liquefied natural gas and education are
examples of developing the base for more growth even as China
He noted that currently, 70 percent of Australia's liquefied
natural gas exports go to Japan, but that the changing pattern
of energy demand in developed Asian economies are creating new
opportunities for exports.
In 2016, the Ichthys liquefied natural gas project in
northern Australia is expected to start production in 2016,
which Carr said would boost export income by $72 billion over
the life of the project.
Australia's GDP grew 0.6 percent in the second quarter,
moderating from the previous quarter when it jumped an
exceptional 1.4 percent. That left GDP up a brisk 3.7 percent
compared with the second quarter of 2011.
China's economy has slowed its robust pace of growth to a
still-envious 7.6 percent year on year in the second quarter,
its weakest pace in more than three years as domestic and
foreign demand has dropped.
"We're not leveraged against any one national economy -
indeed the United States was the biggest source of investment in
Australian resources in the past five years," Carr said.
"And this investment is creating jobs and wealth now and
building the capacity for the production boom which will follow.
So the Australian economy is more than just mining."