May 13, 2020

Senate Committee exposes Covid-19 Commission’s undemocratic foundations

13 May 2020

Today’s public hearing of the Senate Committee into the Covid-19 crisis has revealed the truly undemocratic nature of the hand-picked, fossil fuel heavy Covid Commission and raises real concerns about the credibility of its final advice to Government.

“Scott Morrison’s Covid Commission appears to have been selected by searching through his personal phonebook, rather than a true analysis of what responding to the Covid-19 crisis requires,” said Lucy Manne, CEO of 350 Australia.

“A hand-picked selection of business people, five with strong links to the fossil fuel lobby, is no way to put the people most vulnerable to the impacts of Covid-19 front and centre in the recovery.”

350 Australia today launched “Fossil Fuel Watch,” which examines the Covid Commission and its associated bodies, and links to the fossil fuel industry. It details concessions being sought by the fossil fuel industry during the Covid-19 crisis in the form of financial support, changes to environmental regulation and project-level support.

The Senate Committee today exposed the following:

  • Neither the CEO of the Covid Commission, nor the secretary of PM&C, could answer questions about the process by which the NCCC members were selected except to reveal that the decision was made by the Prime Minister, with no oversight by Cabinet.
  • Neville Power, Chair of the Covid Commission, is being paid over half a million dollars for his 6-month position, comprising his salary and expenses. Commissioners are receiving $2,000 a day (or $480Kpa pro rata). 
  • A charity subcommittee of the Covid Commission has been established, although little is known about its role and environmental charities have not been approached to engage with the NCCC. 
  • Andrew Liveris, head of the Manufacturing Taskforce and on the Board of Saudi Aramco and Worley Parsons, is not required to declare conflicts of interest.
  • Mr Gaetjens, Secretary of Prime Minister and Cabinet, when asked how the Covid Commission is able to address First Nations issues with no First Nations people on the Commission, explained that “the government is handling that”.
  • The CEO of the NCCC identified there had already been one instance of a potential conflict of interest issue regarding commercial information. No detail was provided, with the issue taken as a question on notice. 
  • No additional members have been invited to join the Commission since its establishment, despite its narrow representation. 

“We are calling for three crucial measures to be put in place to ensure the community can have faith in the NCCC: a transparent conflict of interest register and process for managing conflicts of interest; fairer representation of the Australian community; and full transparency of operations of the NCCC and its recommendations to Government,” concluded Ms Manne.

The Senate Select Committee into Covid-19 is taking submissions until May 28th, with a final report due in June 2022. The Senate Select Committee’s Public Hearing today focussed on the role of the National Covid-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC), amongst other matters. Information is available at: 


For further information and interviews:

Lucy Manne

CEO, Australia

0417 387 516