The House of Representatives’ Economics Standing Committee launched public hearings to investigate impediments to business investment.
Among those to speak at the hearings to expand on their written submission was Japanese mining giant INPEX.
Senior Australian executive with the company, Bill Townsend, told the committee that Australia’s geographic proximity to booming Asian markets is helping to boost its attractiveness as an investment destination, which helps to overcome the high cost of doing business here.
But he cautioned that it does not provide an automatic buffer against policy paralysis or political partisanship.
“Australia’s competitiveness is not guaranteed,” he said.
“Australia can be classed as a high-cost, low-risk destination [for business investment].”
The obvious factor is the frequency with which the country has faced a new prime minister in recent years – six in just five years – which Mr Townsend said was met with “surprise” by international investors and companies.
However, he also lambasted “inconsistent” policy approaches by both sides of politics as contributing needless barriers to investment.
Citing climate change policy as one such example, Mr Townsend said that “it’s up to the country to decide what that policy is, but consistency in policy settings from one government to the next” is desperately needed, particularly when, as an LNG exploration and extraction company, INPEX is planning investments across multiple decades.
“We certainly would support bipartisan support on this issue and other policy settings,” he said.
Mr Townsend added that “we were supportive of the framework [of the National Energy Guarantee]”, which ultimately led to the downfall of Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister.