OPINION: Coal cuts would burn a $16 billion industry

September 28, 2016

As appeared in the Daily Telegraph Opinion Pages – 28th September 2016

IMAGINE a Daily Telegraph headline that read “No more Aussie beef!” Imagine if a political party ­announced it planned to end our major farming industries within three years. Imagine if politicians ­announced there would be no more beef, wheat, wool or wine produced or ­exported from Australia by 2020.
Imagine the impact this would have on jobs, exports, regional communities and our economy. Then imagine if a bunch of “academics” released a report claiming that such a plan would have “little impact”. Who in their right mind would announce such a policy?

Well, the NSW Greens have a policy to end an even bigger industry. Their policy is to abolish the coal ­­­industry in NSW within just three years despite the fact national coal exports are worth $38 billion, more than beef, wheat, wool and wine combined.

Here in NSW, coal is our most valuable export, worth more than $16 billion in the past financial year.

Coal also provides about 85 per cent of our electricity needs and delivers more than a billion dollars in royalties a year to help pay for infrastructure and public services.

About 20,000 NSW coal workers and their families rely on mining for their livelihoods, and nearly 8000 local businesses supply mining operations with more than $7 billion in goods and services. The Greens want to end all this by 2020.

They want to wreak catastrophe on the NSW economy by cutting electricity supply by 85 per cent, terminating about one-quarter of NSW exports and ripping more than $1 billion each year from the state budget. It’s a plan for a recession that would rip the guts out of regional NSW and impose serious damage across the state.

While no one really expects serious economic plans from the Greens, an outfit called the Australia Institute ­released “economic analysis” that ­actually claimed ending the coal mining industry would have “minimal economic disruption”. How were they possibly able to make such a claim?

Well firstly, the report ignored the lost export and royalty income that would result from ending the coal industry. The report also dismissed the impact of 20,000 direct job losses, and on those 8000 businesses. The report didn’t even consider the massive ­impact of ending almost all electricity generation in NSW and the associated cost of much higher power prices.

How could such a flimsy piece of work be released in the guise of an “academic report”? A little research ­reveals the Australia Institute is run by former political advisers to the Greens and has a long history of campaigning against mining in NSW. They’ve never seen a coal mine they didn’t want to close, no matter who it hurts.

We need to secure our economic ­future by supporting our most vital ­industries. The absolute worst thing would be to pay heed to the reckless economic policies of the Greens and their mouthpieces.

Stephen Galilee is CEO of the NSW Minerals Council

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