‘A recipe for corruption’ Researcher warns of the risk gas-stacked Covid-19 Commission poses to Australia’s democracy
SYDNEY, Aug 5 2020 - A Melbourne University researcher has sounded the alarm on the Prime Minister’s National Covid-19 Commission (NCC), warning that handing power to a cabal of unelected business leaders could pose risks to Australian democracy that will endure well beyond the pandemic.
The allegations are contained in the Private Actors & Crisis; Scrutinising the National Covid-19 Commission Advisory Board report by assistant editor of the official blog of the International Association of Constitutional Law and doctoral candidate Elizabeth Hicks, published by Melbourne University’s Melbourne School of Government today.
“As it stands, unrepresentative private interests are influencing government decision making and it appears to be for the benefit of members of the Covid-19 Commission rather than the Australian public”, Liz Hicks said.
“Cabinet confidentiality was not designed to hide conflicts of interest. It’s not even clear that these unelected business people can be part of Cabinet, which is supposed to be comprised of federally elected ministers who are answerable to their electors and Parliament.”
“The paper clearly shows that the way the National Covid-19 Commission was set up allows it to escape scrutiny and potentially advance projects that would benefit members of the commission and the taskforces advising it,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific Campaigner, Jonathan Moylan said.
“It is alarming that fossil gas projects like Narrabri that don’t stack up environmentally or economically, have been slated for access to public money by former Commissioner and EnergyAustralia CEO Catherine Tanna, who stands to benefit from an NCCC recommendation.”
The briefing lays out how the NCC members were not appointed through an independent process and the body was not established by legislation, which is typical of publicly funded agencies. It also highlights the potential for rent-seeking as the commission’s potential conflicts of interest only need to be declared to other commission members and not to the public.
Communications Campaigner Martin Zavan
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