Australia's new government aims to reboot mining boom

Sunday 08 September 2013 12.48
Tony Abbott takes office as Australia's economy adjusts to the end of a mining investment boom
Tony Abbott takes office as Australia's economy adjusts to the end of a mining investment boom

Australia's incoming conservative government has promised to reboot a stalled mining boom and revive an appetite for investment.

Prime minister-elect Tony Abbott swept into office on a platform to scrap a mining tax and run a stable administration.

Mr Abbott's Liberal-National Party coalition ended six years of often turbulent Labor Party rule and three years of minority government.

It won a majority of more than 30 seats in the 150-seat parliament at the national elections. It was Labor's worst result since 1934.

Mr Abbott, a former student boxer, Rhodes scholar and trainee priest, began his first day as prime minister-elect with a dawn bike ride with friends around his home on Sydney's northern beaches, before meeting government and ministry officials.

"People expect the day after an election an incoming government will be getting down to business. That's what I'll be doing today," Mr Abbott told reporters.

Mr Abbott, who was backed by Rupert Murdoch and his Australian newspapers, takes office as Australia's economy adjusts to the end of a mining investment boom, with slowing government revenues and rising unemployment.

Mr Abbott's finance spokesman Andrew Robb, who may become the trade minister in the new government, said Australia's economy and mining sector would receive a boost from the election result.

"As of today, the mining boom will be rebooted," Mr Robb told Australian television, adding Australia had become uncompetitive under the Labor government. "We will restore an appetite for risk and investment."

Analysts said the victory for Mr Abbott should give him at least two three-year terms in office.

Despite his solid victory, Mr Abbott's government will not have a majority in the upper house Senate, where he is likely to face a disparate range of minor parties and independents with the balance of power votes from July 2014. Labor and the Greens will control a Senate majority until next July.

Mr Abbott will need Senate approval to scrap the carbon and mining taxes, and to implement his landmark paid parental leave scheme, which has upset big business and many in his own party.

Thousands of Irish citizens living in Australia watched the election outcome closely.

The Labor Party wanted to see restrictions on the numbers coming to Australia on the '457' Visa, which is held by 12,500 Irish people.

However, Mr Abbott has promised the visa will be a mainstay of his immigration programme.