Coal Will Rise Again, Claims Perplexingly Ambitious Australian Article


There’s life in the carbon-polluting coal industry yet, claims The Australian newspaper. Greenpeace’s Jonathan Moylan is not so sure, about the claims or the agenda of the paper.

On Monday, The Australian newspaper published a stunning story following the release of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s Resources and Energy Quarterly.

To believe the contents of the report by political editor Ben Packham, thermal coal is on the way up, powering our economy as it eyes a glorious future. The article quoted the Minister representing the coal industry, Senator Matt Canavan, and had all the hallmarks of a concerted campaign by the beleaguered Minerals Council of Australia.

The only problem with the article is that it was almost completely wrong, to the letter.

In fact, the conservative forecast expected that following a recent short-term spike in value due to contracting supply in China, the thermal coal industry would drop in real value by 2.5% next year and a staggering 16.1% drop in financial year 2020.

It also claimed that the report was a boost for Adani’s controversial mega-mine, which is still facing a series of legal hurdles and required approvals.

The reality is that the report named only the Mount Pleasant coal mine in the Hunter Valley as a new thermal coal mine likely to be producing coal this year.

How could they get this so wrong?

A lump of coal. (IMAGE: Alexander G, Flickr)

While Townsville’s unemployment rate lingers at an unacceptably high 8.5 per cent, Mr Canavan continues to beat the drum of a dying industry while opportunities in new and existing industries pass by.

Queenslanders have every right to be furious at a government that continues to serve the interests of large companies while ignoring its own constituents.

The good news is that the coal industry is on the way out, here and around the world. South Korea is charging ahead in its ambition to be coal and nuclear free, and India is looking to phase out coal imports within three years. Misleading articles by The Australian do nothing to help us shift gears into the 21st century.

The challenge is that the transition is happening nowhere near fast enough to protect places like the Great Barrier Reef and prevent rising salinity in the Pacific as sea levels continue to rise. A government genuinely looking out for the public interest would put support for a just transition front and centre rather than pander to increasingly irrelevant dinosaur industries.

More than ever we need our journalists to be frank and fearless, to check their sources and to speak truth to power. The latest article by The Australian proves them to be more of a propaganda wing for big polluters rather than serious journalists.

Jonathan Moylan is one of Australia's most recognisable environment defenders and has been campaigning on coal issues for 10 years. Born and raised in the Hunter Valley, Jonathan has witnessed the impacts that coal mining can have on communities first hand. Jonathan is a co-founder of Frontline Action on Coal and spent years living in the Leard State Forest in where he helped hold up the Maules Creek coal mine project. In 2013 Jonathan made headlines in Australia and around the world when he issued a hoax press release saying the ANZ bank had pulled its funding to the Maules Creek mine on ethical grounds . Jonathan is currently a coal campaigner at Greenpeace Australia Pacific, where he works on coal exports and finance.