Wages higher across country thanks to mining boom

Kelly Butterworth

IF THE mining boom never happened, the average household income would be 13% lower, real wages would be 6% lower and unemployment would be 1.25% higher.

That is what a group of industry representatives heard yesterday during a speech from Minerals Council of Australia chief Brendan Pearson, who spoke at an American Chamber of Commerce business lunch in Brisbane.

Mr Pearson, who grew up in Rockhampton, said many mining industry critics believed the national impact of the mining boom was overstated.

He drew on a research paper, released by the Reserve Bank last year, that looked into the impact of the mining boom on the country's economy.

"And they brought one proposition," Mr Pearson said. "What is the mining boom never happened? The findings were compelling."

He said household incomes, not just in the mining sector but overall, were 13% higher thanks to the boom.

He also said real wages were 6% higher and unemployment was 1.25% lower, which equated to 150,000 jobs.

In response to critics who claim Australia did not need a mining industry or fossil fuels any more, he said: "Well let's just see how the world would be without fossil fuels.

"Since 1990, 1.7 billion people around the world got electricity for the first time. 1.27 billion of those got it from secured access to electricity powered by fossil fuels."

He also said nearly 900 million of those got power from coal and about 65 million people had solar and wind-powered electricity.

Mr Pearson also questioned critics who used electricity themselves.

"We should not overlook the fact that the refrigerator in the Greenpeace Australia office or the WWF office uses nine times more energy in a year than an average Ethiopian."

His speech also turned political.

He said a poll a few weeks ago of about 3700 people showed 12% of people supported giving a knighthood to Prince Philip.

He then said The Greens scored about 8% of votes in the Queensland election.

"So what's the lesson?" he asked, adding more people wanted Prince Philip as an Australian knight than supporting the Greens party.


Topics:  editors picks employment mining wages

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