Paul Cleary Warns of “Generational Theft”
Journalist Paul Cleary has warned that Australia’s mining boom can’t last forever. Speaking at last week’s Lunchbox/Soapbox at the Wheeler Centre, the author of Too Much Luck warned that the end of the boom may be closer than it commonly believed and that if the gains aren’t saved and spent wisely the mining boom may eventually leave us worse off.
In his address, Cleary said that the conventional wisdom that the boom has no end date is mistaken. He quoted figures from Geoscience Australia, which has estimated that, on current rates of production, Australia can continue to produce diamonds for another 20 years. Gold production can continue for another 30 years, while silver, lead and zinc production can continue for another 45 years on current levels. Similarly, iron ore production will continue for another 70 years, but Paul Cleary adds the caveat that, as many companies are planning to drastically raise production levels in forthcoming years, iron ore reserves may only last us half that time. The government estimates our reserves of natural gas will last another 63 years on current production levels, although some companies, Cleary adds, are planning on tripling production rates.
Cleary calls for higher tax levels and spending the revenue on infrastructure as well as “polyproofing” these savings to avoid “generational theft”.