The Australian Coal Association’s campaign against the Government’s emission trading scheme has been undermined from the outset by the Association’s own website, which features material that directly contradicts the claims in its campaign, and by the CFMEU, which has attacked the campaign as “blatantly dishonest.”

The campaign was unveiled yesterday with considerable fanfare due to the involvement of Neil Lawrence, who was responsible for the successful “Kevin ‘07” Labor advertising campaign before the last election.

The ACA claims in its campaign that the CPRS will “cost the industry more than $14b over 10 years”, cause 16 coal mines to close prematurely and cost 9000 jobs. The figures are drawn from an Association-commissioned report by ACIL Tasman which compared a CPRS-based reference with “business as usual”, involving significant industry growth. The 16 mine closures forecast are all of mines that would have closed anyway within a few years under “business as usual”. The 9000 figure relied on an employment multiplier of 3 — i.e. only 3000 coal mining jobs were actually forecast to be lost.

But two links below the campaign video on the ACA website, the Association linked to an article “Boom forecast for coal output“. The article includes industry estimates that 13 new coalmines would be opened and $23 billion invested in the sector between now and 2015. ABARE figures that the industry saw $10.4b in new investment in the month of April 2009 alone were also quoted. Conversely, the article quoted the Minerals Council of Australia rejecting ABARE speculation that a Japanese carbon levy might reduce demand for Australian coal. Apparently moves to reduce greenhouse emissions in Japan won’t affect Australian coal but similar moves here will be a disaster.

The import of the article is clear: the effects of the CPRS even when modelled by industry-hired consultants will be swamped by industry growth fuelled by Asian demand.

Crikey emailed the ACA early this morning inviting comment on the disparity between the campaign and the material linked to by the Association. No response had been received by deadline, but the link to the “Boom forecast for coal output” article was moved off the front page during the morning. Google Cache shows the original page before the change.

It’s yet another example of the extraordinary disparity between the optimism and endless growth spruiked by industry leaders when talking to investors and the financial media, and the apocalyptic forecasts that accompany their demands for compensation under the CPRS.

The key mining union, the CFMEU, has also savaged the industry campaign.

“Industry research predicts mining jobs will increase by 120 per cent on 2006-07 levels in Queensland by 2030 under the Federal Government’s plan for tackling climate change,” CFMEU mining president Tony Maher said.

“Australian coal mining companies are extremely profitable and will continue to be well into the future under the Federal Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. This scare mongering is purely a cynical bid by mining giants to squeeze more money in compensation out of Australian taxpayers.”

Dead right. And the Association’s own website shows why.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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