Survey reveals Hunter Valley residents overestimate the value of coal industry

Image credit: flickr User: Cultural Collections

A new Australia Institute survey have declared that almost 85% of the 1001 respondents did not want to see the coal industry expand, while more than 40% said they would like it to be phased out.

Image credit: flickr  User: Cultural Collections
Image credit: flickr
User: Cultural Collections

According to the article on The Herald, “The Seeing through the dust: Coal in the Hunter Valley” economy report have found that the majority of the survey participants believed the coal industry employed four times more people than it did and that coal royalties contributed 10 times more income to NSW than was the case.

“The coal industry’s public statements invariably emphasise its apparent importance, but when the industry is placed in context we see that coal is not the bedrock of the Hunter economy,” report’s author Roderick Campbell said.

“The reality is that 95% of Hunter workers do not work in the coal industry and only 2% of NSW government revenue comes from coal royalties.”

The survey have also found that the mining industry’s frequent public statements and reports had been effective in inflating public opinion of the industry’s economic influence, even though residents felt that that the costs on environmental and health issues outweighed the industry’s economic benefits.

“Despite residents having a heavily inflated impression of the coal industry’s economic importance, only one in three feels that the industry’s economic contribution outweighs the other costs it imposes on the community,’’ Mr Campbell said.

‘‘What our report shows is that the Hunter has a diversified, modern economy and that the region’s future isn’t tied to the success of the coal industry.’’

However, the report did not sit well with the NSW Minerals Council, which attacked the Institute, claiming the report was “an ideologically driven, anti-mining exercise dressed up as economic analysis.”

‘‘This latest attack on Hunter mining is an insult to the 15,000 local workers and their families who rely on mining for their livelihoods. It’s also particularly insensitive given mining in the Hunter is going through tough times and people are losing their jobs,’’ the Council’s Chief Executive Stephen Galilee said.

‘‘A visit to any of the industrial estates across the Hunter would find hundreds of jobs in manufacturing businesses that rely on work with mining operations, yet according to the Australia Institute these jobs aren’t mining-related. Try telling that to the Hunter workers losing their jobs in mining supplier businesses due to the current mining downturn in the Hunter.’’

The NSW Minerals Council’s survey last year found 4871 local Hunter businesses were directly supported through spending by the Hunter mining industry.