BHP Billiton has dismissed the need for a parliamentary inquiry into iron ore market operations in Australia after Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced his support for it.
BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie speaking on ABC radio said an inquiry would send the wrong signal to trading partners about the country’s commitment to free trade.
Mackenzie highlighted Australia’s reputation as a global policy leader on trade issues, and added that the company backed the country’s focus on trade and competition as growth drivers.
Mackenzie said: "I believe that free trade is absolutely critical for the future of Australia and its place in the world."
"I am very confident if an inquiry goes ahead that we will see this as a well-functioning market, which is in the interests of both customers and suppliers.
"The inquiry would be an ‘amazing gift’ for Australia’s competitors, given iron ore is a globally traded commodity with other major sources of supply around the world in countries such as Brazil, South Africa, India and China."
He added that in 2012, the company was proactive and deferred 110Mtpa of growth opportunities from the Outer Harbour Development and 70Mtpa from two additional berths that were not taken up in the Port Hedland inner harbor.
Mackenzie added: "I am very confident if an inquiry goes ahead that we will see this as a well-functioning market, which is in the interests of both customers and suppliers."
According to the Minerals Council of Australia, the inquiry will focus on various false claims made by iron ore producing company Fortescue chairman Andrew Forrest about the operation of these markets recently.
Minerals Council of Australia said: "It will also expose the folly of calls from Mr Forrest for the Australian Government to remove his competitors’ ‘licence to operate’, to re-regulate commodity markets and to establish illegal cartel arrangements.
"A focus on facts rather than rhetoric will enable a rational consideration of the importance of free and open markets and the dangers of interventions in favour of selected producers."
Image: BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie. Photo: courtesy of BHP Billiton.