Anti-mining report had a pickaxe to grind

September 15, 2014

Originally published in The Daily Telegraph. 

NSW Minerals Council CEO, Stephen Galilee
The Australia Institute has been caught out using a massive economic deception to attack the mining industry and the jobs of mining workers across NSW. The Australia Institute must now be held to account for the jobs they have put at risk by presenting their anti-mining propaganda as “economic research”.
Today, one of the Australia Institute’s most recent economic “reports”, used to attack mining in NSW, has been exposed as an economic fraud.

An analysis of the Australia Institute’s Mining In The Age Of Entitlement paper completed by economic analysts Castalia and former NSW Treasury Secretary Michael Schur has revealed that the Australia Institute “grossly exaggerates the level of subsidy to the mining and resource sector”. It goes on to say that the Australia Institute’s analysis of state and territory budgets was “fundamentally flawed”, with actual government subsidies “amounting to no more than a few percentage points of the $17.6 billion claimed by the Institute”.

The Castalia analysis states: “Our analysis shows that the Institute has applied a flawed analysis — based on a distorted understanding of public sector accounting — that grossly exaggerates the level of subsidy to the mining and resources sector … we find that the $17.6 billion claimed as subsidy almost entirely fits into one of the following categories: Not relevant to the mining and resources sector ... exaggerated or ... not verifiable.”

The revelation of this $17 billion economic fraud means that the credibility of the Australia Institute is now in tatters. Every piece of work this group produces from now on should be regarded as suspect in the light of this deception.
The Castalia report is supported by the Productivity Commission, who recently found that the effective rate of state assistance to the mining industry in Australia is “negligible”.

It should now be clear that the Australia Institute is not an independent economic think tank. The flaky “economic” analysis regularly presented by the Australia Institute is not independent, and it should no longer be treated as such.

The Australia Institute is in fact a political organisation linked to the Greens. Its clear motivation is to end all mining in NSW and across the nation, with little regard for the thousands of jobs that would be lost, and the economic shock wave that would be felt in NSW.

The Executive Director of the Australia Institute, Richard Denniss, was a former adviser to former Greens senator Bob Brown. The key strategist for the Australia Institute, Ben Oquist, was former chief of staff to Greens senators Bob Brown and Christine Milne.

Further, in 2011, the Australia Institute helped develop the clandestine document Stopping The Australian Coal Export Boom: Funding Proposal For The Australian Anti-Coal Movement.

As part of this funding proposal, up to $480,000 was earmarked to go to the Australia Institute to campaign against the coal industry, including in NSW.

In our democratic society, every individual and every organisation is free to have an opinion and pursue an agenda. However, the Australia Institute has attempted to hide its political agenda as objective research and hide behind an innocuous and patriotic-sounding name.

This deception should be called to account.

It’s also time for the Australia Institute to apologise to the hardworking miners of NSW and their families for deceitfully campaigning against their jobs.

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