eeny, meeny, mining, no...
When an anti-coal protester, Jonathan Moylan, sent an email suggesting ANZ had withdrawn finance from Whitehaven Coal's Maules Creek mine, $300 million was wiped off Whitehaven's market value. The hoax was quickly uncovered and value largely restored by investors.
But with the Greens leader, Christine Milne, endorsing the hoax and ASIC investigating the activist, serious issues are raised: to what extent should communities and green groups go to highlight their concerns? And is the planning process hearing them?
Let me introduce the people of Maules Creek, NSW. It's a small village - population about 100 - near Narrabri, made up of farming families who have been in the area for generations. For years they worked hard to keep good relations with the coal mining companies in the area. But they felt betrayed by them when a 2000-page environmental impact statement was delivered just days before Christmas, with only weeks to respond.
One of the farmers, Phil Laird of the Maules Creek Community Council, approached us, a public interest economics group, Economists at Large, to review the economic appendix of the 2000 page assessment. He told me his wife works at the polling station on voting days. ''There are about 100 people here and 99 of us vote National. We think that one non-National is the school teacher,'' he half-joked.
They are not natural protesters and they feel let down by the Nationals. Nor are they natural allies with environmental protesters such as ''Jono'' Moylan. But they need him to help their cause.
While investors are upset about this week's hoax, the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure has been accepting economic fiction about the Maules Creek project for years.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/facts-and-fiction-from-the-mining-proponents-20130109-2cgmk.html#ixzz2HWXQLqwK