“Proposed bailouts for the dirty gas industry would burn money and the planet”: Climate activists call for the Prime Minister to reject the Covid-19 Commission’s proposals for massive gas subsidies
29 July: Climate activist organisation 350.org Australia is calling for the Prime Minister to immediately rule out massive public subsidies to prop up the dirty gas industry, following news that the Government’s hand-picked Manufacturing Working Group under the National Covid-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC) final report recommends a slew of subsidies and policies for the industry.
The story about a presentation on the final report of the manufacturing taskforce of the NCCC states it recommends the Federal Government underwrite a dramatic expansion of gas supply, cut regulations designed to safeguard communities and scrap moratoriums on gas developments.
Shani Tager, 350 Australia Senior Campaigner said: “The proposed bailouts for the dirty gas industry would burn money and the planet and should be rejected.
“These recommendations to prop-up the gas industry would be a terrible use of public money, are dangerous for our climate and are opposed by local communities.
“This is another example of lack of transparency with the NCCC, with the Government sitting on this report since late May without releasing it. The Prime Minister should release the report and reject any recommendations to subsidise the gas industry.
“Creating special rules for the gas industry and throwing public money at them when they are a polluting industry without a long-term future is simply reckless and should be refused.
“The group is stacked with gas executives so it’s no surprise that they’re recommending support for dirty gas projects, but they are out of step with what the community wants, which is investment in renewable energy and the industries of our future.
A Covid-19 Senate Select Committee hearing on May 13th and documents obtained by 350.org under the Freedom of Information Act suggest that Manufacturing Working Group members who drafted the report have not had to declare or manage conflicts of interest, despite many having links to the petrochemical, oil and gas industries.
This includes one member of the Working Group, James Fazzino, who is a director of gas pipeline company APA. According to 350.org Australia, this is particularly concerning considering the final report appears to promote higher prices for gas pipeline owners and the Narrabri gas project, where APA is proposing to build the Western Slopes Pipeline.
“It’s extremely concerning that the Narrabri gas project and gas pipelines are being promoted when there are potential conflicts of interest concerns about members of the working group who are making the recommendations.
“After our devastating summer of bushfires and drought, we need an economic recovery that puts people above gas corporations and tackles the climate crisis while creating sustainable jobs, not promoting dirty fossil fuel projects,” said Ms Tager.
The NCCC has been plagued by controversy since it was first announced in March. Concerns that have come to light include:
- Multiple members of the NCCC have strong links to the gas industry, including direct interests in the development of gas projects that were later named as priorities in a leaked report by the Manufacturing Working Group under the NCCC.
- Nev Power is being paid $267,345 for his initial 6-month position, comprising his salary and expenses. Other Commissioners are receiving $2,000 a day.
- Nev Power has stepped back from board duties at gas company Strike Energy due to perceived conflicts of interest, but he remains a board member and major shareholder.
- Andrew Liveris has not been required to declare conflicts of interest, despite being on the Board of Saudi Aramco and Worley, as he has been appointed a “special advisor” to the NCCC rather than a Commissioner.
- A number of legal and integrity organisations, and Independent MP Zali Steggal, have raised the alarm about the lack of transparency and governance standards established for the NCCC.
- Environment groups have raised concerns that the NCCC has falsely claimed to have consulted with them.
For comment contact Shani Tager, Senior Campaigner 350 Australia, 0432 050 809