A new report has revealed a sizeable gap between the number of jobs the Queensland coal industry actually provides in the state, and the number Queenslanders think it provides.
According to a research paper released on Friday by The Australia Institute, Queenslanders, on avergae, believe coal employs 13 per cent of the workforce – ten times the industry’s actual size – and its provides for 19 per cent of the state budget royalties.
But the reality, says TAI report author Roderick Campbell, is that the coal industry employs only 1.2 per cent of the workforce in Queensland and coal royalties make up only 4 per cent of Queensland government royalties/
In fact, more Queenslanders work in the Arts and Recreation sector than in the coal industry, according to Campbell, while coal contributes “about as much to the state budget as motor vehicle registration.”
“These are simple facts that the public never get to hear,” Campbell said.
“Despite (its) meek contribution, the (coal) industry’s claims about its importance are a noisy and central part of any public discussion about Queensland economy.
“The public think coal is much more important than it is because the industry’s extremely well funded public relations campaigns focus on repeatedly telling a tale of supposed economic miracles.
“Lobby groups like the Queensland Resource Council are highly skilled at exaggerating the importance of the coal industry. They commission economic modelling which is designed to hugely overstate the industry’s positive contribution and downplay negative impacts.
“They communicate these flawed modelling results very effectively – but their effectiveness has more to do with their advertising budget than their accuracy,” he said.
“Another of these reports is due out this month. It will almost certainly be based on input-output multipliers, a method described as “biased” by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and “abused” by the Productivity Commission.
The Australia Institute’s report also examines the negative impacts of coal on other industries in Queensland. Impacts of the mining boom such as the high exchange rate and competition for land, water, labour and other resources have been hard on industries like tourism, agriculture and manufacturing.
It finds that hotel occupancy rates in tourism areas have declined by up to 10 per cent, while those in mining areas have increased; and agricultural employment in Queensland has declined by nearly 21,000 jobs in the last decade, or 28 per cent.
“If Queenslanders better understood the actual size of the industry it is highly likely that this opposition would be greater still.
“We hope that this report goes some way to better informing the Queensland public about the role of coal in their economy and the trade-offs between the industry’s modest contributions and considerable impacts on the environment and many other important industries,” Campbell said.