TAI says Queensland coal is the “mouse that roars”.

The battle for public support rages on between The Australia Institute (TAI) and the Queensland Resources Council, with a new paper arguing the coal industry contributes less to the Queensland economy than miners would have you believe.

‘The Mouse that Roars: Coal in the Queensland Economy’, released on Friday last week, states that only 4 per cent of Queensland government revenue comes from coal mining royalties, and that coal is only 7 per cent of the gross state product.

The paper also states that coal mining is one of the smallest employing industries, which accounts for 1.2 per cent of employment in the state, with 24,350 employees listed in the 2011 census.

QRC CEO Michael Roche said that the coal industry employs 66 per cent of the 43,000 people employed by QRC members, a rough figure which would equate to 28,000 employees.

“That does not take into account the contractors employed by the coal sector,” Roche said.

TAI have also said that industry claims about indirect employment are overstated, and are not supported by Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force data.

“In the short term, ABS data shows that changes in mining employment often move in the opposite direction to changes in overall Queensland employment,” report author Roderick Campbell said.

“Over the longer term, increases in mining employment have had little or no impact on Queensland’s overall employment.”

Roche also tackled the issue of the royalties coal produced for the state of Queensland.

“According to budget papers, of the $2.3 billion paid to the state in resource royalties in 2013-14, of which coal was responsible for more than $1.8 billion,” Roche said.

Interestingly, TAI chose to overestimate the value of coal royalties, saying they were worth around $2 billion.

“Such a figure is not large in the context of running a state government,” TAI said.

“Similar amounts come from vehicle registrations and interest on funds saved for superannuation and long service leave entitlements.”

However, the TAI said that over six years the Queensland government has provided $8 billion in assistance to the coal industry.

It was suggested that on top of the low contribution to the Queensland government revenue, the coal industry has a negative impact on other industries such as tourism, agriculture and manufacturing.

Roche argued that coal mining is responsible for direct spending of $38 billion on wages, goods and services and communities in 2012-13, which according to Lawrence Consulting resulted in $76 billion spent in the state economy.

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