Advocacy is core business for think tanks, but when does advocacy become propaganda? When the think tank is the grandly named Australia Institute, is one answer.
The latest episode in False and Misleading from the "Institute" is the claim that the Queensland government receives more in motor vehicle registration and traffic fines than it does in coal royalties.
They've been making variations on this claim for at least 2 years. The first variation appeared in New Matilda, on June 17, 2016 saying that in 2015/16:
… And the winner was….
Car rego by $1.632 billion to 1.594 billion! Well done, drivers. Better luck next year, miners.
But the figure is wrong. Alert readers will realise that no one knew what the real figures were on June 17 because there were still 13 days left in the financial year – these were just budget estimates.
When the final figures were compiled coal royalties were actually $1.705 billion and rego $1.633.
But the AI couldn't let go the comparison, so they've continued to develop it even as the inaccuracies have escalated.
The 2015/2016 financial year was a bit of a cherry-pick, with coal prices near their most recent bottom. In 2016/17 coal royalties roared ahead and were $3.405 billion, and the estimated actual for 2017/18 is $3.768.
Motor vehicle registration is a steady accumulator, increasing to 1.681 in 2016/17 and 1.755 estimated actual for 2017/18.
As the ratio has moved against it the AI has adjusted its claim by rolling in vehicle related expenses like speeding fines with Director Richard Dennis telling ABC's Steve Austin"the Queensland government collects more revenue from car registrations and speeding fines than it does from the royalties from the coal in Queensland" (2:13:50). But as the table shows, there is no factual basis even for this bulked-up assertion, even using the most generous version of the story and including the stamp duty on registration along with the registration and every fine the state of Queensland collects.
Why do they like this lie? I guess they think most people don't realise how substantial a contributor to state revenue car related expenses can be, so this is one way of making it sound like coal royalties don't matter that much.
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