Greenpeace calls for abolition of fossil fuel-stacked Covid commission as unaccountable network of business executives revealed

SYDNEY, June 4 2020 - The Prime Minister’s handpicked National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC) is a cabal of business associates operating almost without oversight and should be immediately abolished and replaced, says Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

This morning members of the commission appeared before a Senate hearing where NCCC Chairman and gas company executive Nev Power revealed that his commission did not consider options other than gas to spur manufacturing, and the NCCC has not undertaken any kind of cost-benefit analysis to support its decisions to advocate for certain projects.

“Strike Energy director Nev Power told the Committee that he was appointed as NCCC Chair because of his business connections and remains listed as a director of a company with gas interests in Western Australia. Australians deserve an independent commission that can develop plans in the public interest,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific Campaigner Jonathan Moylan said

“Mr Power also testified that the Commission specifically ruled out examining the role of renewable hydrogen as a manufacturing feedstock before any modelling was conducted on policy options to accelerate the decarbonisation of the manufacturing sector.”

“The Commission was also unable to describe how conflicts of interests are managed, including EnergyAustralia’s 20 percent stake in the Narrabri gas project under the leadership of Catherine Tanna. For all these reasons and many more Greenpeace is calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to abolish this conflicted and compromised commission.”

More evidence of the murky relationship between private interests and the Commission was revealed when Mr Power confirmed reports that his personal executive assistant, previously his secretary at Strike Energy, is being paid for by taxpayers and the payments are being made through his private trust. Furthermore, Mr Power is not required to disclose how he spends his more than $260,000 taxpayer-funded allowance.  

The inquiry also found that one of Australia’s international climate negotiators, Kushla Munro, has been appointed as a First Assistant Secretary to commissioners Nev Power and Catherine Tanna, who heads EnergyAustralia, leading to a situation where a senior public servant with climate change responsibilities has been put in a position managed by executives from significant greenhouse gas emitters.

“The Senate has unveiled that the Commissioners are not subject to rules that would normally protect the public interest.

“Commissioners have been unable to answer questions about how they were appointed, any potential advice from intelligence agencies on their appointments or why they have publicly promoted projects like an ammonia plant to prop up the controversial Narrabri coal seam gas project that has been strongly opposed by farmers and traditional owners for nearly a decade and is still under assessment. 

“The gas-led Covid Commission has been lurching from mishap to disaster since its inception and it’s well past time to put it to bed and replace it with an independent, representative, transparent, participatory and well-advised recovery body.”

 

Notes

Earlier this morning the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) warned against the NCCC’s advice to gamble Australia’s economic and environmental future on gas, pointing out that the costs of production of gas are too high to justify public subsidies rather than pursuing renewables and clean production as advised by the International Energy Agency.

https://ieefa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Gas-Cannot-Stimulate-the-Economy-Reduce-Emissions-or-Provide-Cheap-Power_June-2020.pdf

 

Contact

Greenpeace Australia Pacific Communications Campaigner Martin Zavan

0424 295 422

[email protected]