Mines Minister Martin Ferguson was seen as an expert and a fighter for Australia’s resource industry both here and overseas.
Mines Minister Martin Ferguson was seen as an expert and a fighter for Australia’s resource industry both here and overseas. Geoff Potter

Ferguson's passion will be missed from mining industry

THERE was perhaps just one man in the Labor Government considered an ally by Australia's mining industry - and now he is gone.

Mines Minister Martin Ferguson was seen as an expert and a fighter for Australia's resource industry both here and overseas.

The battles between the once-booming mining sector created so much chaos for the ALP, including the resources super profits tax and the carbon tax.

Throughout these skirmishes, Mr Ferguson's passion and knowledge for the industry held him in good stead.

He walked from the ministry on Friday after preparing to support Mr Rudd in the coup-that-never was, describing his decision to now resign as "the only honourable thing to do".

Mr Ferguson said the 2010 mining tax was a mess of Labor's own making, adding he considered leaving the cabinet then after being left out of discussions.

His move to the backbench brought out the heart in an often-maligned industry, as lobby groups eulogised his loss.

The Queensland Resources Council labelled him dignified and enlightening, while national counterparts - the Australian Mines and Metals Association named him an insightful statesman.

Even the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association which represents a coal seam gas industry bruised by new environmental laws called him "a man of enormous integrity".

The greatest indicator of his success as a Mines Minister comes probably from Greens Leader Christine Milne who wasted no time in declaring she was glad he was gone.

In what was intended as an insult, she said, "The fossil fuel industry has never had a greater advocate in the federal cabinet than Martin Ferguson".

The former minister said he now offered his full support to Prime Minister Julia Gillard.



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