MR: Coal not vital to economic success of Hunter Valley

A strong majority (83%) of Hunter Valley residents do not want to see the coal industry expand, while 41 per cent would like to see it decrease or be phased out, a new research paper by The Australia Institute finds. 

Seeing through the dust: Coal in the Hunter Valley economy will be launched at 10.30am, Friday 13 June, Queens Wharf Brewery (eastern side carpark), Newcastle. Bulga resident John Krey and local vigneron Stewart Ewan will also be available for comment at the doorstop. 

The report also finds that local residents believe the coal industry employs four times more people than it does and that coal royalties contribute 10 times more income to the NSW Budget than is the case. 

Report author Roderick Campbell said the significant difference between the perceptions of local residents and the reality of the industry’s economic contribution sadly confirms how successful the industry has been in inflating its importance. 

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

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

Contrary to claims by the NSW Minerals Council, a smaller coal industry would have only minor impacts on the future Hunter economy. Modelling shows that long-term adverse conditions for the coal industry would have minimal effects on employment and economic output. 

“The fact that coal is not vital to the economic success of the Hunter Valley also seems to be sinking in locally. 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. 

“Residents are concerned about the negative effect the industry has on the Hunter’s air quality and health, on water and bushland and its impact on other local industries such as vineyards, horse studs, tourism and agriculture. 

“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,” Mr Campbell said.

Notes for editors

  • A survey of 1,001 Hunter Valley residents was conducted in November 2013. A professional polling company conducted the poll using voice-automated telephone interviewing and random-digit dialling to numbers known to be within the Hunter Valley and Newcastle. Demographic data was also obtained, and after the interviews were completed, the responses were weighted against population estimates derived from the 2011 Census.

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