Have a chuckle – without coal we are third world!

We had a chuckle when we were told carbon is killing jobs. If it were not for the coal industry we would be a third world country was said. Then chided in a fellow that looked Greek but claimed he is Irish; I was born and bred in the Albury district, and when I was a boy we were told the Myrtleford area in Victoria would die without the Tobacco industry. Tobacco farms were everywhere it was the lifeblood of the community. Well, Myrtleford has survived and it one of the true natural beautiful places in the world and extremely well sought after and prosperous – and no Tobacco – all gone. Mark my words, we can live without coal too – Australia I mean!

All this kicked off over the words ‘natural resource’ and even if it was harmful it was a natural product and this should be sufficient when combined with the economic benefits of the use of. Therefore it was reasonable to consider the claims to the extent that the economy would suffer without Coal Mines. It was concluded that problems would exist, but it was overblown in the effect. The overblown claims had one purpose – to appeal to public perceptions and gaunter support for its importance – and the industry’s survival. The difficulty for the industry is they want us to completely ignore market realities. For instance the falling off of demand, price, and global imposts on carbon pricing. So much influence has those factors got that a local view has no relevance anyway!

So we must say, for local views to be true they would need to defy what is the evidence for existing National and Global infrastructure and markets. Take for instance this story:

Coal not bedrock of Hunter Valley economy, jobs, By Sophie Vorrath on 13 June 2014: “ A new study has found a huge gap between public perception of the coal industry’s importance to the NSW economy and jobs, and the reality of its contribution to the state’s coffers and its people.

The report, Seeing through the dust: Coal in the Hunter Valley economy, launched by the Australia Institute on Friday, finds that Hunter Valley residents believe the local 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.

It’s a discrepancy, says the report’s author, Roderick Campbell, that illustrates how successful the industry has been in inflating its importance.”

The story goes on to say:

“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,” and

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

As Co2Land org has already mentioned. It is an issue Australia wide. Actually, it may be better described as a global issue of national importance. When you look strategically, it is seen as a war! The tools used are the spread of ‘misconception’, or distortion of truth.

In the article above and reported elsewhere is that the United States (US) has introduced new Environment Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that outline and describe misconception as a war on American jobs, economic growth, and GDP. The point of these regulations is a focus on CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants.

In the media US economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman recently wrote, “coal mining accounts for only one-sixteenth of 1 percent of overall US employment; shutting down the whole industry would eliminate fewer jobs than America lost in an average week during the Great Recession of 2007-9.” The columnist goes on to say “the so-called war on coal – or on coal workers – this happened a generation ago, waged not by liberal environmentalists but by the coal industry itself,” when it turned to machinery to produce more coal, using far less miners. And coal workers lost”. We need to note here that in Australia our Liberal Party is not liberal, it is better described as Tea Party like. It is confusing, but!

Despite all the grand rhetoric, the bigger issue facing the coal industry is cost, and its cost position as the global shift to low-carbon technologies begins to render the fossil fuel uncompetitive. As an aside all are now called ‘natural fuels’ and it might seem ‘clean’ is gone from the Australian policy.

Back to the Hunter Valley, the Seeing through the dust report is quoted “the a subsidiary of Brazilian mining giant, Vale, sacked 500 workers from the Glennies Creek underground and Camberwell open cut mines near Singleton, blaming poor global coal prices for its decision”.

We can only comment with: The spin is spinning, but in the end it will get down to cost – but we don’t need to pay the earth!

 

Major shake-up for DPI

It is goodbye to Catchment Management and the Livestock Health and Pest Authorities. They are to be eliminated in a major shake-up in the provision of agricultural and catchment management services in NSW. This means a Major shake-up for the Department of Primary Industries.

It is understood the new structure would be responsible for:

  • Agricultural advice
  • Plant and animal pest control and biosecurity
  • Natural resource management; and
  • Emergency and disaster assessment and response.

The Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson was quoted as saying “agricultural advisory services provided by Agriculture NSW (part of the Department of Primary Industries) would also be incorporated in a single new body, Local Land Services,……Farmers and landowners will be able to easily access natural resource management, agricultural advice and biosecurity functions from one organization,….The structure will free up staff to work more closely with their communities, encourage innovation and integration across the landscape and be more accountable to ratepayers”.

The Minister is also credited with saying Local Land Services would be regionally-based, semi-autonomous, statutory organisations governed by locally-elected and skills-based board members. For more information on the new structure, follow the link, as outlined by Ms Hodgkinson: media/pdf/20121004_FINAL_Local_Land_Services_fact_sheet.pdf

CO2Land org has always encouraged better practices and notes the new Local Land Services will be set up to promote innovation, improve productivity and let farmers and landholders to get on with being able to manage their land.

This news should comfort organisations looking for a better relationship with levels of government without the prescriptive styles of the former authorities. While it is welcome that the work of community-based natural resource management organisations like Landcare NSW and Greening Australia will be more closely attuned to the administration it remains to be seen if harmony will prevail over funding distributions and cooperation with other co-funded organisations including the Rural Research and Development Corporations.

CO2Land org notes there is concerned over job cutting and the effects on the bush funding models. The main criticism being the election promises and moves to decentralisation is in fact becoming centralisation of DPI.  We spoke to a recent DPI employee that accepted a package from the body, and it was said – now more good than bad will follow, everyone was too comfortable before and whether the remaining staffing is permanent Government employees or contractors or just made up of volunteers it will be better than the way it was delivering. Only one real issue remains: What will be the sources of the funding for vital work?