Wayne Swan and Julia Gillard

In the three months to August, according to recent data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the mining industry fell to its lowest level of employment, in trend terms, since late 2010/early 2011. That's hardly surprising given the end of the mining boom, of course. Recent capital expenditure data also showed mining investment hitting its lowest level since late 2010.

Back then, federal politics was dominated by Labor's mining tax and its plans for a carbon price. Tony Abbott relentlessly demonised both as disastrous for mining jobs and investment, and promised to get rid of them. The mining tax had caused mining and resources companies like Santos, he warned before the 2010 election, to "put major projects on hold ... billions of dollars worth of investment is at risk ... hundreds, maybe even thousands, of jobs are in jeopardy."