One of the arguments put in favour of the MRRT (Mining Resource Rent Tax) is that it is fair that we all share in the benefits of the exploitation of our minerals.
This assumes that we don’t already share in the benefits of the exploitation of our minerals. This is nonsense, as can be shown by pointing to royalties paid to states, taxes paid to governments, facilities provided to communities and dividends disbursed to shareholders.
It can also be demonstrated by the multiplier effect where people not directly involved in the industry are indirectly supported by it.
I can think of three people of my acquaintance who are in this category. There is Donna, who used to work for me, whose husband lives in Brisbane some of the time, and flies-in to a mining camp the rest of the time. Then there is Paul who is in-house legal counsel for one of Queensland’s largest mining companies. He doesn’t fly-in anywhere, unless he’s driving a porsche into town these days. And finally there is Margaret. She runs the training operation of a mining services company and lives just around the corner.
I’m a beneficiary as well as we’re just in the middle of building a website for a gold miner.
But how do you quantify this knock-on effect of mining?
At a recent launch I went to Mike Ahearn claimed that 20% of people in Brisbane earn their living directly or indirectly from mining. That sounds a bit high.
This post by Peter Martin, gives another measure. It is a report on a presentation by Treasury’s David Gruen.
There are two graphs – one shows that the biggest growth isn’t in mining at all, but in “mining-related services”. The second graph is even more significant. It shows that the jobs growth is being spread fairly evenly around the country.
That is not to say that the jobs are all in mining-related industries, but there is a knock-on effect. The effect works like this – for every builder who is now working on housing for the mining industry, and who could have been fully-employed in house building, there is a person now in work filling his job who wouldn’t have been in work at all.
This was always going to happen. All the talk of a two-speed economy is largely built on anxiety, and a misunderstanding as to how economies work.