In the industry keynote speech at the Minerals Council of Australia’s Minerals Week Seminar, Boyce said the nation’s coal sector remains a cornerstone of the economy, but stands at a crucial inflection point. His comments came just as company officials announced more than 400 layoffs in Queensland and New South Wales amid a slowing market.

Despite “decades of opportunity” ahead in Asia-Pacific, “all of Australia faces a steep cost if its policymakers get it wrong,” said Boyce, threatening two economic pillars: affordable electricity—and the country’s No. 1 resource position in a decade of growth making it “the envy of the developed world.”

Irrespective of which party leads Canberra’s next government, he added, a new policy blueprint must ensure the coal sector regains competitive ground for economic growth. This requires a National Commission on Resource Sector Competitiveness, according to Boyce, devoted to a long-term policy framework.

One that is “bipartisan, must represent both state and federal interests and must work in partnership with the private sector,” said Boyce. “Its first priority should be aligning the government and industry’s respective visions to formulate a 30-year strategy for the sector.”

Boyce also called for a repeal of the country’s carbon tax. “Europe and the U.S. state of California serve as examples of the catastrophic effects ill-advised carbon policies have had on other developed economies,” he said.

Embracing and deploying advanced coal technologies are essential alternatives to shaping the nation’s emissions profile. “Supercritical plants are highly efficient, and their carbon emissions rate is as much as 40% below the oldest plants,” said Boyce. “Granting this technology the same status as renewables would be a leap in the right direction for a forward-thinking nation.”

Despite fluctuations, coal’s long-term outlook remains strong, according to Boyce. “It’s now up to Australia’s leaders to implement policy reforms that will ensure coal can enhance Australia’s position as a leader in the decades ahead.”