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For this hypothetical, hosted by journalist and broadcaster Ali Moore, we brought together experts across a range of different fields to work through the ethical quandaries at the centre of Australia’s coal conundrum.


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Seventy per cent of the world’s steel is made using coking coal, and right now there’s no match when it comes to abundance and affordability. In this hypothetical challenge, the government is backing a new steel-making coal mine – promising big demand, high prices and a long-term economic future for the local town. But: it’s going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Would you invest? What are the competing issues at play and whose rights take precedence?

Our expert panel roleplayed their way through this ethical minefield. Stepping into key roles such as the mining CEO, the investor, the banker, the local Mayor and the Indigenous community leader, they explored the tensions between shareholder and stakeholder primacy when it comes to climate change. Witness first hand just how complex the road to net zero can be.

Dr KEN HENRY as the Bank CEO
GRAEME SAMUEL as the Bank Investor
JODIE SIZER as the Local Indigenous Corporation representative
KELLY VEA VEA as the Local Mayor
DAN GOCHER as the Climate Campaigner
DIRK MATTEN as the Federal Politician

Presented in partnership with Trinity College – The University of Melbourne and the Gourlay Family

The Coal Conundrum was recorded on 30 June 2022.

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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.