Mining council questions Australia Institute’s ‘no regional jobs’ findings

by admin on July 14th, 2018

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Queensland Resources Council describes the “no-mining jobs” research as a “clanger”. Photo: Glenn HuntQueensland’s Resources Council has questioned the findings of a think-tank’s research showing mining investment did not produce jobs in regional Queensland.

The Australian Institute on Friday produced a report after an investigation into the mining construction boom and its impact on regional jobs in Queensland until 2015.

The report is authored by two prominent anti-coal campaigners; Mark Ogge, an artist and former operations director at Beyond Zero Emissions and Tom Swann, the former organiser of Fossil-Free Australian National University.

Both now work as researchers for the Australia Institute.

The pair report that: During the mining construction boom of 2010-2013, a period of increased mining capital expenditure in Queensland, there was no jobs boom in regional Queensland;Half of the mining jobs growth in the mining sector were created in Brisbane;In Cairns, Wide Bay and Townsville each followed a similar overall path – growth from the early 2000s, then decline over the mining construction boom;Townsville’s employment dropped the most and was now more than 20,000 below the pre-boom peak.In the past 18 months, employment in Cairns and Wide Bay has stabilised and increased.

The report argues the concentration by the private sector on mining expenditure in regional Queensland in that time hampered industry growth in growth industry sectors that no longer includes mining.

“Job gains in the more mining-intensive regions of Mackay, outback Queensland and Fitzroy were largely offset by falls Cairns, Townsville and Wide Bay,” the report says.

“The lesson for regions that have become dependent on mining is to prioritise the long-term non-mining industries rather than tolerating collateral damage to these industries in a headlong rush to profit from temporary mining booms.”

The report analyses Australian Bureau of Statistics data and Australian labor market figures to summarise that: “Over the mining boom, employment increased in the three regions where mining contributes the largest share of employment (Mackay, Outback and Fitzroy)”.

“Yet it decreased by a similar amount in neighbouring regions where mining is below the state average (Cairns and Wide Bay).

“Conversely, as the mining construction boom ended and mining regions saw employment fall, employment growth picked up in non-mining regions.”

However Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said the report was a “clanger” and the statistics in the report did not support the conclusions drawn by the authors.

“The authors don’t appear to have an economics degree between them and one lays claim to being a fine artist,” Mr Roche said.

“There certainly is some artistry in being able to paint a picture of the resource industry in Queensland that is not borne out by the data in their own report,” he said.

Mr Roche said the report showed solid employment gains in the coal and gas Fitzroy region and in mostly gas production areas of the Darling Downs.

“In the Mackay region, which includes the Bowen Basin coalfields, employment grew strongly then peaked in 2014, reflecting the end of construction of some new mines and well-publicised coal job losses.”

Mr Roche said the report actually showed unemployment increased in regions where there were no new mining projects.

“The decline in regional employment was actually in regions that did not have major new resource investment – Townsville, Wide Bay, Cairns and the outback,” Mr Roche said.

He said the Queensland Resources Council’s data showed there were 75,000 new “direct and indirect” new jobs created by the mining industries over the past six years.

“Over the six years of that data collection, the direct and indirect employment contribution to Queensland from the resources sector has grown from 292,000 to 366,000, or an increase of 25 per cent,” he said.

“The 2015-16 data is currently being modelled and will be released later in 2016.”

He said the report was part of an ongoing campaign to wind down the coal industry in Queensland.

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