June 4, 2020

Senate Hearings: Chair of Covid-19 Commission remains in sensitive gas discussions despite Board directorship and shareholdings

  • 350.org calls for release of final Manufacturing Report now with Government
  • Concerns remain about management of conflicts of interest

Mr Neville Power, Chair of the National Covid-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC), today appeared before the Senate Select Committee into Covid-19, and confirmed he has not stepped back from any discussions the NCCC has undertaken regarding gas, despite his significant shareholdings and company directorship in a gas company. Mr Power refused to guarantee that no one on the NCCC will stand to benefit from its gas plans.

350.org is calling for the release of the final report of the controversial Manufacturing Taskforce, after today’s public hearing revealed that the final report is with the NCCC and Government. The draft report, recently leaked to the media, confirmed the taskforce backed a polluting gas-fired economic recovery. 350.org is also calling for improved transparency and accountability of the Taskforce and NCCC, proper public consultation, and clear processes for handling conflicts of interest. 

A full transcript of the Senate Committee public hearing will be available here

“The fact that the Chair of the NCCC, who remains sitting on the Board of a gas company and holds millions of dollars worth of shares in a gas company, is still involved in making recommendations to the Government about gas projects shows that the potential for conflicts of interest are not being properly managed,” said Lucy Manne, CEO of 350 Australia.

“The Australian community deserves to know the full picture of the interests that the Covid-19 Commission members hold and how potential conflicts of interest are being managed. These people are providing advice directly to the Prime Minister, they are also involved with some of the most polluting companies in Australia, and this is all going on behind closed doors. 

“The Manufacturing Taskforce’s interim report, already leaked to the media, envisages the entrenchment of dirty gas at a time when we should be choosing clean energy. Despite widespread controversy, we have now found out that this report has been quietly finalised and handed to the Government without being made public.

“Australia could follow the lead of countries around the world developing measures that address climate change and the economic crisis together. Instead, the Covid Commission and its Manufacturing Taskforce appears to be set on using this moment to push the development of massive new gas projects that fuel dangerous climate change and lock in an unsafe future.”


Morrison’s hand-picked NCCC is increasingly under a cloud for its fossil fuel links and inadequate reporting, accountability and scrutiny mechanisms. More detail about Nev Power and his gas interests is here. 350 Australia’s “Fossil Fuel Watch” project examines the NCCC 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.


For further information and interviews:

Lucy Manne

CEO, 350.org Australia

0417 387 516