There’s No Future In Coal. But Disaster Recovery Is Booming


If there was a union or lobby group for serial killers, then you’d expect them to push pretty hard for better conditions for stone cold murderers.

‘The Australian Government has been ignoring the needs of serial killers for decades. Legislation specifically targeting our members is having a serious impact on their ability to kill.’  Said no media release ever, although hold that thought.

Introducing the Coal Council of Australia, which earlier today pumped out a media statement demanding that its industry – which kills about a million people a year according to the World Health Organisation – be treated more fairly. Politically speaking.

“The Queensland government must draw a close to the stalling tactics and unequivocally back the development of the Adani Carmichael project in the Galilee Basin,” Coal Council CEO Greg Evans (presumably not the Greg Evans of ‘Perfect Match’ fame) thundered this morning… amidst months of record temperatures and natural disasters.

“Federal Labor also needs to stand squarely behind the project and recognise the contribution of coal to the national economy.

“The project has satisfied every legitimate environmental and technical requirement, and there is little doubt amongst mainstream Queenslanders it has been held up for political reasons and by the pressure applied by green activists.”

Except that’s not really accurate, Greg. Firstly, it’s also been held up because Adani doesn’t have an agreement with the real Traditional Owners of the land Adani hopes to tear up. It hasn’t just been Green activists leading this fight.

Secondly, it’s not ‘political’ to oppose coal mining for the sake of saving the planet from catastrophic human-made climate change. Environmentalism is not a political agenda. It’s called ‘common sense’.

Thirdly, the Adani project has failed to satisfy all sorts of environmental and technical requirements, not least of all the one that ensures the mining won’t harm the broader Australian community.

Anyway back to the Coal Council’s propaganda….

“The case couldn’t be clearer. The project and further development in the basin will provide jobs and a much-needed boost to the regional economies of central and north Queensland.”

Right. It is true, more or less, that Adani would provide jobs, although nothing like what Adani has claimed. And it is true, in one sense at least, that it would boost the economy.

There’s the initial boost for construction jobs. And then there’s the jobs at the mine themselves. There’s also the significant ‘boost to the jobs economy’ that will be brought about by an increased need for emergency services, and stimulus spending from governments to help regions recover from drought and disaster, wrought by a warming planet spurred on by projects such as the Carmichael coal mine.

So yeah, approving Adani will provide a flow of cash… until, of course, we lose the economy associated with the Great Barrier Reef (some 50,000 jobs) and until we run out of credit to pay for the increasing natural disasters that projects like Carmichael help cause.

But back to the Coal Council once more….

“Demand for thermal coal remains strong with analysts Commodity Insights forecasting an extra 400 million tonnes annually of import demand from Asia by 2030.

“If Australia doesn’t help meet this increase, there is no doubt other foreign suppliers will step in, and we will forego a significant economic benefit.”

This is also true. There is strong demand for coal. That’s because some people in the world – mostly our leaders – are inherently stupid and destructive, and have yet to grasp the urgency of anthropomorphic climate change.

The Coal Council rounds out its release with this jingoist nonsense.

“Thousands of job seekers between Gladstone and Townsville have shown interest in working on the opening of a new coal basin. The government must now let it proceed without further delay.”

I’ve got a better idea. Let’s see if we can recruit those ‘thousands of job seekers’ to projects that focus on projects which won’t exacerbate climate change… or maybe train them up in disaster recovery.

With projects like Adani in the pipeline, that’s the real ‘new economy’.

Chris Graham is the publisher and editor of New Matilda. He is the former founding managing editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine. In more than three decades of journalism he's had his home and office raided by the Australian Federal Police; he's been arrested and briefly jailed in Israel; he's reported from a swag in Outback Australia on and off for years. Chris has worked across multiple mediums including print, radio and film. His proudest achievement is serving as an Associate producer on John Pilger's 2013 film Utopia. He's also won a few journalism awards along the way in both the US and Australia, including a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation and two Human Rights Awards. Since late 2021, Chris has been battling various serious heart and lung conditions. He's begun the process of quietly planning a "gentle exit" after "tying up a few loose ends" in 2024 and 2025. So watch this space.