Hogsback on Holden

PART of the reason why the Australian population refuses to acknowledge the outsized contribution coal has made to the economy and history of the nation is a basic ignorance about its identity.
Hogsback on Holden Hogsback on Holden Hogsback on Holden Hogsback on Holden Hogsback on Holden

Instead, there are outdated slogans and truisms about why Australia is such a great place and what it means to be an Australian.

Coal, it seems, has been dropped out of the narrative.

This has been very amply demonstrated by the hand wringing in some quarters this week about the demise of the Holden brand car.  

"Footballs, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars," went the famous jingle that some people cannot seem to forget.

Hogsback's first car was a HQ Holden and his memories of it was that it had crappy suspension and was a veritable gas guzzler.

That is partly because it was manufactured under a regime of protectionism that effectively ensured US automobile maker General Motors could make and sell the car with little competition.

As protectionism was gradually removed it became clear that it did not have a lot of the features of German and Japanese models.

Compare this with the Australian coal industry, which operates in a truly global unregulated market and must stand up on its own two feet without government assistance.

The success of the Australian coal industry is testimony to Aussie ingenuity, perseverance, and pursuit of excellence.     

Yet, the general public have no idea about its history and its role in establishing the base for the country's present day prosperity.

Instead, the coal industry is regarded as the boogey man responsible for all of the country's ills.

Data by research group Alva shows that in the period since the 2019-2020 summer bushfire season, which started back in October and went up to and including January 23, the coal industry has been referenced in more than 25,000 pieces of content focusing on the Australian fires across print, online and social media.

This is a remarkable increase of 650% on 2018-19, in which only 3300 pieces of content were published and a 780% increase on 2017-18.

"Looking at the 2019-2020 data in more detail also reveals a pertinent finding; when the volumes are presented longitudinally, we can clearly observe a sharp increase in the frequency with which discussion of the bushfires is linked to coal, tied into the worsening of the situation," the Alva report states.

Despite the fact many mine coal personnel were involved in fighting the bushfires in regional areas such as the Hunter Valley and Lithgow, the coal industry is blamed for being the root cause of the fires.

Yet again, it is coal that is the bad guy and not the hero.

Hogsback reckons it is about time the population constructed a new jingle about being Australian that takes out "Holden" and puts in "coal".