Chairman says COVID-19 Commission lobbied for gas industry expansion

gas bottle

Strike Energy director and Chair of the Government’s National Covid-19 Commission (NCC) Neville Power has told a Senate hearing that the body lobbied the Prime Minister to use public money to expand the fossil gas industry.

The revelations come as a Freedom of Information request for the Commission’s Advanced Manufacturing Taskforce report was rejected on spurious Cabinet-in-confidence grounds.

In response to questioning by the committee, Mr Power said the NCC had “requested support from government” to develop infrastructure for the fossil gas industry through offtake agreements for pipelines and the creation of markets for gas-derived products like ammonium nitrate. 

“It’s no surprise that a Commission stacked with gas executives is recommending policies that would waste public money on stranded gas projects and are refusing basic information to the public. Those recommendations must be rejected,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific Campaigner Jonathan Moylan said

Mr Power also confirmed that despite numerous approaches from business leaders to support a more rapid shift to renewable energy to bring down energy costs and prepare for the future, that advice was ignored.

The hearing also revealed that the NCC now reports directly to the Prime Minister. 

“The admission that a gas executive is reporting directly to the Prime Minister is deeply troubling, shows a complete disregard for normal democratic checks and balances, and puts the prospects of a viable and future-facing economic recovery at risk,” said Moylan.

Story source: Greenpeace

Photo: Theen Moy

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Sarah Jacob

Sarah Jacob is a journalist and editor and is currently The Advocate's Deputy Editor. She has written for a range of print and online publications across Australia and internationally with a focus on the environment and human rights. Previously she worked in conservation science and protected area management, and has completed postgraduate degrees in journalism and marine science.

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