More to Australia's economy than mining - minister

Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:07pm GMT

By Daniel Bases

NEW YORK, Sept 24 (Reuters) - 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 economy.

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.   Continued...

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