There is no future with coal

18 April 2019

There is an enduring and increasingly nasty debate in Australian politics concerning coal mining and coal-fired power. The spectrum of views ranges from those who believe that we have a natural comparative advantage in coal that we should continue to exploit, domestically and by export, through to the other extreme of those who would like all coal mining and coal-fired power to be abandoned as soon as possible.

If it is accepted, as it is by nearly 80 per cent of voters, that it is essential that we make the transition to a low carbon society as a matter of urgency, then a move beyond coal is inevitable. However, it will not, and should not, happen over night - it is a transition that needs careful management, but it must be pursued.

There is no doubt that coal is a significant Australian industry and export, but this significance is often exaggerated in political debate. For example, it is said to be a significant employer, yet total employees are less than 35,000, and the industry is being rapidly mechanised. A recent survey by the Australia Institute found that people think that the coal industry employs nine times as many as it actually does.

Read the full article on the Ballarat Courier website.

Written by John Hewson, Honorary Professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU, and a former Liberal opposition leader.

Updated:  24 March 2021/Responsible Officer:  College of Science/Page Contact: