Demonising mining

This morning the head of the Minerals Council of NSW, Nikki Williams, gave a feisty speech about the increasingly troubled relationship between mining firms and the community. The speech left me a bit short of oxygen to be honest and, in my view, will simply inflame tensions. Let’s take a look:

We’re the darlings of the business pages, yet we’re painted as demons in the early general news. We help Treasurers keep budgets healthy and give Australia the strength to stave off the threat of recession, yet our industry is a lightning rod for the most adversarial of political debates.

We’re in the midst of one of the longest and strongest mining booms in our nation’s history. Yet we face multiple policy, regulatory and legislative challenges that might collectively render our sector a less attractive destination for international investment than countries such as Indonesia, Colombia or even Mongolia.

We find ourselves central to the most divisive political debates in our nation’s history. Whether it’s the carbon tax, the mining tax, the so called ‘two-speed’ economy, future budget surpluses, land access, competing land use, cumulative impacts, or crumbling infrastructure in some of our key regional centres, the mining industry has skin in the game in most of the debates that are contributing right now to the future direction of this country and our state.

Well, that’s not a constructive tone of negotiation to open with. It is defensive and hyperbolic. Mining debates are contentious, sure, but they hardly “the most divisive political debates in our nation’s history”. Except perhaps the one case of the mining tax and what role that was played by the mining lobby in the fall of a Prime Minister, but that doesn’t get a mention.

In fact, I’ve spent a couple of years marvelling that mining hasn’t copped more blow back from a far larger proportion of the community, especially business. The vast majority of businesses that are being squeezed out by mining, mostly in the tradable goods sector, pretty much never blame the miners. Rather, they stick to the private versus public script and tend to blame the government for such things as the carbon tax.

Ms Williams tone of defensiveness then deepens further into the speech:

Australia is a paradox of those who don’t care and are disengaged, and those who are so engaged and so hardened in their views that they’re prepared to take matters into their own hands. They’ve written government off as incompetent or unable to deliver the changes they believe are needed. This is a new era. The industrialisation of activism.

The adversarial, partisan construct of modern Australian politics, whether at state or federal level, has contributed to an obligatory face-off over almost every issue you could think of.

The 24-hour news cycle has turned up the heat on our politicians. It leads to a new paralysis, because it’s created an environment where the voices of 10% of people opposed to an idea can be amplified to a deafening roar. This ‘roar’ apparently feels so overwhelming that it often means governments don’t act on their convictions, or refuse to engage on the detail of policy and its implications, leading to political stalemate and a virtual policy vacuum.

I am not seeking to de-legitimise activism. It’s an important part of our freedom of speech. Indeed, we must reserve the right for activism to effect change. But government processes don’t seem able to deal with it. Individual industries can’t deal with it; and the reality is, that everything is grinding to a halt.

Our media industry has an active role. Commentators bemoan partisan politics and the voices of vested interests in public policy debate, yet it is these very characteristics that fit the construct of conflict that the news cycle thrives on.

The recent edition of Four Corners, which examined the carbon tax debate, is a perfect illustration of the point that I make. Over 45 minutes, the program presented a picture of ‘The Carbon War’, as it was called, between the hard right conservatives and the visionary left.

Thud. Yes, that’s my jaw hitting the soon to be mined ground under my feet. I don’t at all disagree with the analysis of the media, nor of the assessment of today’s political economy. I only object that the Minerals Council represent itself as somehow transcending it. In fact, the Minerals Council exists for the sole purpose of pursuing the interests of its members. Was it not the Council that played a lead role in the fight against the RSPT? Whether you agree with that stand is irrelevant. The point is the Council was entirely happy to exploit and reinforce the “adversarial, partisan construct of modern Australian politics” when it suited the members needs. And has done so again since on the carbon tax. In fact, it is doing again in this very speech. But apparently:

Where the carbon debate is playing out on the extremes, in truth there’s a vast middle ground that doesn’t quite know what to think: torn between a desire to do something on climate change, and little to no understanding as to why Australia should consider self-imposed economic disadvantage for no discernible environmental gain.

Here the hypocrisy is naked. This is not the middle ground of the carbon debate. It is the extremes misrepresented as the middle. The middle ground of the debate might be Australians wondering about the efficacy of the carbon tax versus its costs. But that is not “no discernible environmental gain” is it? And there’s more:

This “limbo land” is where the minerals industry resides. In terms of the carbon tax, it has been unilaterally excluded from assistance available to emissions intensive, trade exposed industries, despite meeting the government’s own criteria. It does have access to an assistance package, but it is one that will merely delay the premature closure of a four mines by a single year.

Good Lord. The minng lobby does not occupy some innocent “limbo land”. It is actively aiming to derail the carbon tax with, among other things, this very speech. And more:

The government hopes that the residual growth, to be reduced by the tax, will compensate for the loss of jobs in mines that close. But this is flawed thinking, for there is a human face to job losses. The 55-year old NSW coalminer might not want to move his family to another region or interstate in order to stay employed for the last 10 years of his career. And why should he have to?

Nor can he just walk into a job in the clean energy sector, as politicians such as Christine Milne like to suggest: to begin with, there aren’t many of them; secondly, where they exist they are more akin to semi-skilled manufacturing work; and thirdly, they are not highly paid. There are very practical questions about relocation of families and dislocation of regional communities that need to be addressed. Why is it a good idea to send more than 4,000 miners into early retirement when we’re already struggling to get our heads around the economic implications of an ageing population?

At MB we regularly discuss the economic adjustment that is displacing the tradable goods sector in favour of mining and the RBA, as well as Treasury plan that aims to let it happen. The adjustment is real and very large. It involves lots of workers being “freed up” to resource the mining boom. That Ms Williams is either unaware or insensitive to this makes me wonder what the objective of this speech is at all.

I could go on but won’t. If the speech is evidence of future efforts at mining rapprochement, can I suggest boosting the ad budget is a better idea for the Council. Painting mining as the victim is only going to put folks off side. Find the full speech below.

NSWMC EC Conference 2011 Opening Speech NBW[1]

Comments

  1. If there’s one person who never fails to make my blood boil its Nikki Williams.

    She’s up there with Andrew Bolt and Piers Akerman.

  2. It’s strange that we should feel sympathy for the plight of the 55-year-old coalmine worker, but blithely accept the need for the 55-year-old Fitter and Turner to relocate to a mining town, because the SME where he has worked for umpteen years has folded.

    Oh, and in anticipation of the screams of protest, I am not suggesting that the SME failed because of the mining industry – I’ll leave that to others.

    But it appears that the coalmine worker shouldn’t be confronted with the indignity of having to relocate in order to work out the remainder of his glorious career. But all you other useless non-mining buggers will just have to go where the work is – tough titties.

    Would that represent a double standard?

    Ms Williams certainly doesn’t suffer from shrinking violet syndrome. The mining industry now seems to subscribe to the old military adage “The best form of defence is attack”.

    Has anyone else noticed how most of the big corporations and lobby groups now seem to employ female mouthpieces?

    Is there some psychology involved here?

    Am I supposed to be more convinced by their utterances because, like my wife, they could never be wrong 🙂

    Uh,oh! I just heard 3d1k’s engine starting 🙂

    • Great comment:

      “It’s strange that we should feel sympathy for the plight of the 55-year-old coalmine worker, but blithely accept the need for the 55-year-old Fitter and Turner to relocate to a mining town, because the SME where he has worked for umpteen years has folded”.

      • Except that Williams does not say anything in her speech about a 55y/o Fitter and Turner. This Fitter and Turner is a figment of Julius’ fertile imagination.

        The issue of fungibility has been well covered – no-one in the resources would support that notion that skill from one sector are easily interchangeable. As for the relocation aspect – FIFO fixes it! No need to uproot, leave family, friends, community – juts fly to work.

      • Fungibility concerns for a fitter and turner moving to the resource sector?
        Now who’s exercising their fertile imagination?
        I gotta hand it to you, 3d, you’re an absolute pro at sliding the focus over to where you want it.
        Fertile imaginations in the resource sector these days seem to be dedicated to the creation of red herrings, and the laying down of smoke screens.

      • You are trying to confuse things by claiming that that Julius was trying to say that Williams was talking about a 55 year old fitter and turner when he was paraphrasing her comment about a 55 year old miner. You are showing yourself up as a propagandist.

      • You want propaganda. Read Julius’s comment again!

        The opening para being a manipulation of what Williams said juxtaposed with what she did not.

        I would be confident that Williams would be sympathetic to both the coalminer and the fitter and turner. Julius is cunningly trying to indicate otherwise – having introduced the fitter and turner in this case as purely a propaganda device.

      • Littleguy,

        It’s taken a while, hasn’t it – but 3d has really hoist his true colours on this one.
        He has been to what we used to call in the oil industry “smart school”.
        It’s all there – shift the focus, put a positive spin on negative comments, change the subject, re-interpret alternatvie view points, turn the argument around 180, ignore clarifications and awkward facts – straight out of the smart-school text book.
        For example, at 7.47am, I clarified the statement about the fitter and turner in a response to Jumping Jack Flash.
        Judging by the way 3d has been all over this thread there can be little doubt that 3d saw that clarification
        Yet at 9:44am, two hours after the clarification, 3d still chose to refer to my original comment as “cunning” and “propaganda”. You see, the clarification was inconvenient – and thus ignored.
        You might just as well go out and debate the mining industry with the magpie in your backyard.
        Macrobusiness now has its very own ’embedded” mining spin doctor – and debate is off the menu.

      • My colors have always been supportive of resources. Essential to modern life.

        You are a little harsh Julius! Was just making a gentle point to littleguy that ‘propaganda’ tends to be readily recognised (or claimed as such) when it is the ‘propaganda’ of those we disagree with, but seldom recognised when from our side of debate.

        Cheers.

      • You might just as well go out and debate the mining industry with the magpie in your backyard.

        +1

        I usually respond to MiningBot’s PR comments (sometimes, he simply reposts the same comments ) with a -1 . I made an exception for this thread.

    • Jumping jack flash

      You can’t blame mining for the fact that our manufacturing sector is bloated, inefficient and uncompetitive in the global market.

      The 55 year old fitter probably expects to be paid top dollar for a profession that is now more common and less necessary compared to what it was 35 years ago when he started his career.

      His high wages add a percentage increase to every item produced by the business he works for.

      I agree that Australia shouldn’t become a mine, but we haven’t addressed the real issue here, and that is global competitiveness for our manufacturers.

      If we have priced ourself out of the global market then we either need to accept that and all go and work in the mines, or we cut the prices of our manufactured goods to match those of the global market leaders.

      But instead we are scapegoating a successful niche industry because our manufacturing has been left in the dust by globalisation. A more classic Australian reaction I have never seen.

      • And?

        We do not act to control currency movements when some may consider the impact adverse – what do you suggest. The miners will continue doing what they do in response to demand.

        You say it is not ‘blaming’ mining but just look at most of the comments here at MB. A blame game in motion!

      • This is a discussion about the bully boy rhetoric coming from the Minerals Council, not the comments here.

        You perfectly well what I suggest vis-a-vis the dollar.

        Your sophistry is getting tiresome. What happened to you? I want the old 3d back.

      • Jack,

        You have misread my comment.

        I make no judgement as to why the fitter and turner has lost his job.

        I point out only that it is portrayed as a national tragedy, by the erstwhile Dr. Williams, if a coalminer is faced with the prospect of relocating to gain employment.
        Yet we are constantly told by the powers that be (yes, 3d, not by Nikki Williams) that we must accept the fact that whole industries will have to close down and those displaced must be prepared to “follow the work”.
        So, if you are a coalminer, it isn’t fair – if you are anybody else….well, in the current idiom, suck it up.
        Of course, once we have a FIFO airport in every town, village, and hamlet, it won’t be a problem, will it?

      • Yep – FIFO is the way.

        I think Williams’ point was simply that unemployment (for any individual) is difficult and not to be treated lightly (as those that desire the closure of coalmines blithely ignore the human aspect (Lorax)).

        Nothing wrong with following the work, if that is your choice. You may be surprised to know that a sizeable portion of the NZ population work on project in the north-West – they’ve followed the work.

      • No, it does not surprise me, 3d.
        I spent 9 months based in NZ working on a major offshore project myself.
        But thanks for trying to help me understand the complexities of your industry.

  3. The recent edition of Four Corners, which examined the carbon tax debate, is a perfect illustration of the point that I make. Over 45 minutes, the program presented a picture of ‘The Carbon War’, as it was called, between the hard right conservatives and the visionary left.

    Wow..that sentence should make MiningBot’s head explode and send him into an infinite loop!

      • I think it was a little political, but defend her right to say it. There is some truth in it after all.

      • Perhaps Ms. Williams was upset at the ABC for broadcasting the part of her interview where she said that the carbon tax won’t cause the coal industry to shrink, just to expand at a slower rate.

        So, while some mines will close, overall the number of people employed by coal miners will still increase significantly.

        Hardly doom and gloom then, is it?

        ===
        DR NIKKI WILLIAMS, CEO, DESIGNATE AUST COAL ASSOC: We’re saying that there will be reduction of one third in the growth of the industry, longer term, and we’re saying that there will be a closure – potentially – of 25 mines in the first four years of the introduction of this tax.

        MARIAN WILKINSON: And how many mines will open and what will the growth be in that same period?

        DR NICK WILLIAMS: Well, obviously if we’re reducing growth by one third, there is a two thirds growth.
        ===
        http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2011/09/15/3318364.htm

      • Well, if it makes you feel better, you can rationalise it as a sarcastic remark.

        Either way, Dr. Williams is taking sides in a poltical debate – in the wonderful world of political economy lobbyland, I thought that was a strict NO-NO.

  4. I couldn’t see much of a problem with that speech. Fairly appropriate for the target audience, strayed a little but not unreasonably so.

    It is clear that the mining sector in NSW/Qld struggles with a couple of factors – proximity to major population groups (who want the benefits resources bring but are typically NIMBY) and CSG, which tends to upset some, on occasion unduly so.

    Anyway, nothing contentious to debate here. But I rather liked her comment:

    “…we must reserve the right for activism to effect change.”

    Absolutely. After all, miners are moderately skilled in the art of effective activism!

      • Not at all. Firstly most are not going to hear it. Secondly, those that do will largely agree, the bulk of it self-evidential and thirdly it doesn’t really matter: the resources boom is here to stay for as long as global conditions permit.

      • LOL – by ‘largely agree’ I mean with Williams of course.

        And my most important point is the final one. Williams’ speech has been and gone, let’s hope that is not the case with the resources boom – now I am sure you agree with me on that one…

      • You an excuse for the divisiveness of the speech – that it will not be read by the broader public – not a counter argument. Clearly you do agree on the content.

        I found it excerpted in the national papers. It is already widely read.

        Insofar as it inflames resentment, this speech therefore represents a risk to mining interests, not a successful defense of them.

      • Fanboy,

        You have clearly lost all perspective and any semblance of empathy you felt for the alternative view.

        Williams is a warrior for vested interests. She was utterly ruthless when climate change became a hot button issue in 2006-07. She doesn’t understand the meaning of conciliatory.

        Mainstream Australia has clearly shifted from viewing the mining sector as its saviour during the GFC, to viewing the mining sector as a greedy, job-destroying monster.

        The Minerals Council should be selling us on how the mining sector can help the struggling sectors of the economy, not tell us how hard done by they are. No-one’s buying it.

      • HnH,

        It’s looking increasingly like the Mining Industry has decided to ramp it up a notch.
        3d has undoubtedly received a copy of the memo, and is just following orders.

      • HnH

        I have always been a moderate voice in support of the resources sector.

        I may have ramped it up recently in response to the raft of anti-resources commenters you seem to have attracted, dare I say nurtured – rarely is there an editorial response to some of the more extreme views?

        For a business blog there are certainly a large number with a very negative view of business and a very positive view of the continuing and ever expanding nature of government beneficence – which of course has to be paid for somehow…

        We need a robust, vibrant and healthy economy and resources are an important part of the picture.

      • Saying it doesn’t make it true. You have without doubt become more and more pro-mining over the months.

        If by me courting controversy you mean my campaign to get the AIG off its arse then I suppose that’s right. The same goes for Federal authorities and their failure to manage the boom.

        But that is the only context in which I have criticised mining. In fact, I’ve written the best analysis that I know of in the media about why the boom is so important.

        Moreover, I’ve done this all year.

        I could debate with the old 3d. This one just makes me angry.

      • HnH – fair enough in regard to your personal position (which I think at core is conflicted).

        My response is an attempt to ‘balance the story’ when it comes the the negative groupthink that has taken hold of a section of your readership.

        Emotionally charged language, strident claims and misinformation of a negative nature. In light of that, curious that you diminish my responses as ‘rhetoric’ which may often be the case – but exclude any similar reference to the inane comments I am responding to.

        Balance.

      • Which goes to my point: a significant number of your readership are already ‘angry’ about the resources sector.

        The opposition is framed in generalist statements of alleged “harm” and “cost” but when pressed to provide any such evidence that directly implicates the resources sector solely, fails.

        Without challenge to these views, the resources/mining discussion would take on the nature of that expressed in a certain Weekly publication…

      • You have it backwards, old boy.

        May I remind you that this string follows a post about bald-faced mining vested interest rhetoric?

        The comments reflect the speech and your defense of it, not the other way around.

        But I sense this is about to get circular so I’ll bail out at this point.

      • a significant number of your readership are already ‘angry’ about the resources sector.

        Do you even stop and think YOU may be responsible for that?

        I was a disinterested reader when it came to the “Holes” part of this blog; I was more interested in the “Houses” part.

        But your constant pro-mining “red herrings, and the laying down of smoke screens”, as Julius put, kind of radicalized me.

        Congratulations and keep up the good work.

      • Now I know you are joking Mav. I have seen be the tenor of your comments on a range of subjects that you are a passionate man, easily roused!

      • Then so be it…

        Quite frankly until we start engaging in public debate about what this country is going to look like once we’ve strip mined it from one end to another, and how we intend to extract value from or contribute value to the global economy, I’m good with a slow burn policy on mining expansion.

        As at 2009, we were producing around 309m tonnes of iron ore, growing at an average rate of 11% pa over the prior 6-7 years. Now rather than being realistic in their assessment of our iron ore reserves, the RBA tries to tell us that we have over 71 years of reserves…unfortunately they then go and use the time honoured “At current rates of production”, meaning “we’re hoping somebody is stupid enough to buy this hogwash!”

        The reality is that unless this whole charade goes pop, an annual growth rate of 11% will give us a doubling time of around 7 years, resulting in our 71 years of current known reserves becoming just 20 years…sure we’ll find a bit more…somewhere…we assume anyway.

        I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I’m sure as hell planning on still being around by that stage, and I’m not entirely comfortable with my elected officials conspiring to sell us up the river, let alone our allegedly “independent” central bank greasing the axles of this runaway train.

        Any government that is acting solely in the interests of less than half a generation is doubtlessly committing economic vandalism, and anything that is likely to slow down the rate at which corporations can opportunistically exploit this treachery is a positive thing in my mind, come what may in the short term…
        We don’t often see an own goal from the mining fraternity so I’m not unhappy about this hubris nonsense.
        Source

        http://www.rba.gov.au/publications/bulletin/2011/mar/pdf/bu-0311-1.pdf

    • “It is clear that the mining sector in NSW/Qld struggles with a couple of factors – proximity to major population groups (who want the benefits resources bring but are typically NIMBY)”

      I would say it’s the other way around – it the “NIMBY’s” as you call them who are struggling with the negative effects, not the mining sector.

      • Out of interest, we went into Flight centre this arvo to book holiday flights. The young woman arranging the bookings looked bleary-eyed and kept making mistakes. She explained that she is driving from Rockhampton each day to work in Gladstone. Gladstone Flight centre is struggling to find local employees as lower-income earners are forced out by spiralling living costs. Let’s hope fuel doesn’t go up too much since an extra 1000km or so per week of driving might cost a bit if you’re on a modest income. Flight centre is a large concern so if the Gladstone branch were to close, it wouldn’t hurt the company – we might just have to drive to Rocky.

      • From the local rag…

        “RENT SITUATION DIABOLICAL
        THE chief executive of the Gladstone Regional Council has described the town’s rental market as “diabolical”.

        Speaking at the Golding Industry conference last week, Stuart Randle outlined the state of Gladstone’s rental crisis.

        Unlike most powerful figures in the region, Mr Randle speaks on this topic from personal experience. He arrived in Gladstone earlier this year, looking for a place to rent, and received a shock.

        “In my own experience when I came to town, I found (the rental crisis) to be an impossible process to negotiate,” he said. “I was just personally very fortunate that my employer was able to find me somewhere to stay on a short-term basis.”

        He said the number of contacts made to Tenancy Advisory and Advocacy Service by tenants with complaints had risen by 143% in the past 12 months.

        As an example of how companies working on major projects should plan ahead, he pointed to the example set by WICET, which reached its final investment decision only weeks ago, but has newly built accommodation about to open for its workers.

        He said that level of “forward thinking” contrasted what had been put in place by LNG companies at a comparative stage.

        “The LNG companies have done quite a bit of work (to improve housing),” he said. “But their presence has had an impact on the market.”

        He said construction of workers’ accommodation on Curtis Island, should see the situation become “dramatically better” in 12 months.”http://www.gladstoneobserver.com.au/story/2011/10/24/council-ceo-says-rent-situation-diabolical/
        Well I do hope that the last statement turns out to be correct – other towns have miners camps as well but it doesn’t appear to have brought down the cost of living.

      • In reality few negatives, NIMBYs don’t like the look of a mining project – but gladly reap the benefits mining brings in terms of almost every facet of modern life!

      • Wrong 3d1k. Mining USED to bring many benefits to towns like mine. The booms of the past brought some undesirable effects but they also brought plenty of good as well. FIFO has altered that – now the boom no longer brings most of the benefits, but it still brings all the old negatives, seemingly amplified even further this time.

        When you say that there are few negatives in reality – I assume this means that you’re calling me a liar?

      • The negatives of FIFO cant be swept under the carpet. Locals get it in the neck.
        Nor can the negatives of having an exaggerated centralization of population tied to a coastal city, thousands of kilometres away be ignored.
        These truths are self evident.

  5. I don’t have an issue with a strong mining industry, it’s the strong-arming that’s going along with it at the moment. The speech is pretty disingenuous and its analysis completely superficial and self serving- even the most sophisticated propaganda is bound by the constraints of its genre. “Render(ing) our sector a less attractive destination for international investment” – textbook stuff. Bravo !

  6. Talk about ambit claims. It does seem to me the NSWMC are trying to walk both sides of the street. They don’t like it when their activities are subject to public scrutiny and opposition, yet they willingly set out to influence public opinion in support of their own interests. They are as “political” as they need to be. There is nothing wrong with that, but they should not pretend to be the only teetotalers in the public bar.

    The mining industry have always played mean and dirty – on native title, on environmental issues, on tax and royalties. They are good at identifying and occupying “their ground” in a debate, much as they occupy a mineral lease and make it their own.

    But life is not simply about occupying ground and fighting off other claimants. It is about living among and with a wider society, and in the end the mining industry has found ways to reconcile their self interest with the public good.

    • If you have been involved in any native title negotiations in recent years you would well know that there are comprehensive and exhaustive discussion, negotiation, arbitrage and compensation. The days of mean and dirty (as if they existed solely in the mining sector – pastoralists? stolen generation? missions? right to vote?) are non-existent.

      Equally so with environment issues – again if you were involved in resources you would be aware that entire regions of Indonesian and Amazonian Rainforest have been destroyed to provide paperwork required to document the multitude of environment guidelines, regulations, restrictions, recommendations etc. No ‘mean and dirty’ and you phrase it.

      Tax, again no playing mean and dirty and similar with royalties. However I agree with your final statement – the mining industry is always reasonable.

      • And with environmental issues miners have to deal with both state and federal governments.

        FFS it is the same environment!

        Yet a miner has to go through lengthy processes at the state level only to have to then deal with the Feds. Meanwhile the window for resource super profits which the government wants a share of, begins to close.

      • Talking about side shows,
        did you cop Mr Barnett’s comment wrt OPR delays in the midwest?
        “The longer the ore stays in the ground the more it looks like black gold”
        Choked on my cuppa I did.

  7. HnH,

    I think this speech by Dr. Williams in Orange, delivered August, makes the one you have cited look like a veritable peace treaty.

    http://www.nswmin.com.au/ArticleDocuments/50/NSWMC_CEOSpeech_Mining-NSW_110829.pdf.aspx

    I particularly enjoyed such little gems of insight as:

    “We need to consider seriously the impact of the advent of social media like Twitter and Facebook. The campaigners, when they protest or blog, are generating their own content, which is shared online without fetters. With no traditional media filter, hyperbole and hysteria rush across the web masquerading as fact.”

    “No traditional media filter”……WTF?

    And:

    “I think it’s instructive to look at Gunnedah, where the primary opposition to mining has been driven about fear over water, and ruthlessly exploited by a handful of pastoralists. If you look at these two maps side by side, you can see the scale of the mining industry compared to agriculture. I think this picture speaks volumes about the disproportionate concern and the disproportionate reaction by government. The coal industry, in this case, has literally been left holding the bath water.”

    Those damn ruthless pastoralists!! What the hell would they know about water that wasn’t already shown on Nikkis two maps?

    Another:
    “The industry faces mounting criticism from groups as diverse as academics, the Farmers’ Association, Horse Breeders, Vignerons, iconic industrialists, GPs, residents, community based action groups, environmental justice warriors, social justice anti-development fighters like The Greens party, and anti-corporate campaigners who routinely string themselves across railway lines, chain themselves to vessels and who are veritable masters of ‘the stunt’.”

    What can I say – what a ragtag bunch of dispirit no-hopers.
    What would the likes of “…academics, the Farmers’ Association, Horse Breeders, Vignerons, iconic industrialists, GPs, residents, community based action groups,…” know about anything?
    When put up against the collective wisdom of the mining industry?

    If you haven’t already done so, and if you can find the time, I commend this document to you as a rather disturbing insight into the mindset of what is becoming an increasingly powerful force across our country.

    This is one aggressive lady – and if she truly represents the attitudes of the mining industry, particularly the attitudes towards what were once respected groups and the accumulated wisdom within our communities, then we are all in deep.

    • With no traditional media filter, hyperbole and hysteria rush across the web masquerading as fact.

      Oh, we do have a media filter here, but it is rather ineffectual and I dare say, counter-productive – Mining PR Bot aka 3d1k aka China Fanboy

      I am eternally grateful to him for single-handedly energising the bloggers and commentators here against the evil miners.

    • As I said right at the start:

      If there’s one person who never fails to make my blood boil its Nikki Williams.

      She’s up there with Andrew Bolt and Piers Akerman

    • DelraiserMEMBER

      “We need to consider seriously the impact of the advent of social media like Twitter and Facebook. The campaigners, when they protest or blog, are generating their own content, which is shared online without fetters. With no traditional media filter, hyperbole and hysteria rush across the web masquerading as fact”

      In other words, we now have contradicting views out in the public space that quite frankly, are incompatible with the cheerleading and vested interest spin put on by their beloved Australian newspaper……

    • LOL – Julius, she’s got you reading her views. She clearly has a strong and particular opinions but you can sleep at night as most of these presentations are ignored by the public and only enjoyed by a select audience in regional locations.

      Don’t worry about it. I’m not. In fact I’m developing at certain taste for her unique ‘say as she sees it’ style.

      • “…you can sleep at night…”
        “…ignored by the public…”
        “…select audience….”
        “..Don’t worry about it…”

        Paraphrased: “Be a good boy now and run along and play with your toys. Daddy and the grown-ups will look after running the country”

        Oh, boy! Now I’m really concerned.
        That type of reassurance has been heard at many times throughout history……and rarely did it end well.

      • LOL. Rest assured, his fairy tale has a happy ending. (You’ve got to have the occasional scary bit along the way – heightens the emotional impact and ensures celebration at the end!)

  8. Jumping jack flash

    I think some of what she has said needs to be said.

    You cannot compare manufacturing and mining because they produce two different classes of goods.

    Mining is a niche industry whereas much of Australian manufacturing is not. Your 50 year old fitter should curse globalisation and then accept a pay cut for his company to become more globally competitive. Or move overseas where cost of living is cheaper.

    Mining is niche so they can do whatever they like to some extent until demand evaporates due to global economic forces, probably brought about from globalisation skewing the global economy.

    However, the carbon tax will fix what is wrong in the world and get back some of that money we spent in Asia on cheap goods, and remove their competitive advantage once and for all.

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      So you’re advocating an Australian citizen to quit his country to make way for a foreign owned mining company? Please take a reality check : the Australian government exist for the welfare of Australian people. You can argue that mining will benefit the Australian people overall, however there are cost, both social and financial, that are being paid by the non-mining sector. It is not merely a ‘public relation’ problem.

      • “…however there are cost, both social and financial, that are being paid by the non-mining sector”

        The fact that we do not manage our currency is not a responsibility of the mining sector. Apart from that there would appear few other ‘costs’ directly attributable to mining.

      • Apart from that there would appear few other ‘costs’ directly attributable to mining.

        Landholders in agricultural areas of eastern Australia where CSG and coal-mining are intruding would beg to differ.

        Traditional landholders in the north-west might take issue with that as well.

        Environmentalists might disagree with you as well.

        As for the costs arising from the strong currency, the government had a plan to slow the mining sector, redistribute the windfall profits and support struggling sectors through the mining boom. This plan was systematically destroyed by the mining industry in the first half of 2010, which ultimately led to the demise of a Prime Minister.

        Now, almost two years on, the non-mining sectors are on their knees, and job losses outside mining have become a huge political issue.

        Rather than offer constructive suggestions about how the mining sector could assist the weaker sectors of the economy, the mining lobby goes on the attack again in the shape of the fearsome Nikki Williams.

        Its a recipe guaranteed to demonise mining further, and drive the wedge deeper between the winners and losers in Quarry Australia.

        You reap what you sow.

      • Landholders in agricultural regions appear to be in the process of being catered for via legislation, not all are opposed and CSG has a new supporter – Tim Flannery.

        Traditional landholders in the North West have benefited by the provision of employment, facilities of townships and most importantly generous financial packages worth hundreds of millions. More recompense that they ever got from pastoralists or government: enabling traditional landholders to purchase or establish businesses, to provide for future generations and aid self-determination.

        Some environmentalists may disagree, not all. Extreme environmentalists disagree with human life in abundance altogether.

        The MRRT has been successfully negotiated. Rudd was already unpopular with Labor ranks, loathed – the party actively sought his end. Not the mining sector.

        Some parts of the non-mining sector are experiencing difficult times, akin to similar sectors in other developed economies. Major job losses have yet to eventuate, if and when this unfortunate event were to occur, a range of factors will have contributed.

        Out of interest, how and indeed why should the mining sector assist weaker sections of the economy. That is a role for government. The mining sector has limited ability in this regard. Talk to your local member.

        “You reap what you sow.” You’re confused, that is the agriculturalists.

      • I can’t bag mining for other issues in differing industries.
        Nikki W. won’t enter my thinking either.
        The “constructive suggestions” for other industries does not fall on mining.
        It falls on us our elected reps. etal to do that.
        So far not so good

      • Out of interest, how and indeed why should the mining sector assist weaker sections of the economy. That is a role for government. The mining sector has limited ability in this regard.

        By paying their fair share of taxes and not using their economic might to influence government policy through advertising campaigns, and billionaires (Gina & Twiggy) organising protests.

      • The resources sector duly pays all taxes, in addition pays royalties for extraction and even you Lorax, could not expect them to pay MRRT ahead of time!

        As for your desire that the resources sector “… not using their economic might to influence government policy” or to “organise protests” – I thought you supported free speech and the right to protest. Or do you reserve that right for those of particular political and environmental leanings?

        Move along.

      • What, pray tell would a billionaire in a booming industry need to protest about?! Earning $10 billion in a year instead of $11 billion?

        FFS mate, there’s a difference between a bunch of hippies occupying a city square for a week, and billionaire miners spending tens of millions on an advertising campaign to change a policy for the direct benefit of their hip pocket!

      • I support the right to protest in principle (regardless of the participant) although I may not support the cause. My concept of the right to protest in a democracy is not exclusionary on the basis of sex, age, race, religious affiliation or wealth.

  9. “It leads to a new paralysis, because it’s created an environment where the voices of 10% of people opposed to an idea can be amplified to a deafening roar. This ‘roar’ apparently feels so overwhelming that it often means governments don’t act on their convictions, or refuse to engage on the detail of policy and its implications, leading to political stalemate and a virtual policy vacuum”

    Is this the same kind of deafening roar that a $22m advertising campaign and associated lobbying in the press against the RSPT and associated press coverage might make? This from a industry that employs less than 2% of Australia’s workforce and sends over 80% of profits offshore…?

    When is the Jon Stewart when you need him?

    • HR – The RSPT was seriously flawed, poorly drafted, bordering on appropriation. Even HnH did not approve.

      You can relax, we have the MRRT.