The head of the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission will receive $267,345 over six months, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has revealed.
PM&C’s deputy secretary of governance group, Stephanie Foster, on Wednesday told the Senate inquiry into the government’s response to COVID-19 that the commission chair, Nev Power, would receive $500,000 for the role.
She said the funds were an allowance to cover his travel and accommodation costs.
The department has now corrected that figure, stating that “in developing and executing Mr Power’s contract, the PM&C estimated travel to and from Canberra valued at approximately $6000 per return trip each week, $350 per night for accommodation and incidentals such as food and taxis, and additional extra expenses set to be incurred from other travel once internal border restrictions ease”.
“It is expected that Mr Power will perform his duties as chair of the NCCC for a period of approximately six months. This equates to $267,345 (plus GST),” it said in a statement.
The commission was established in March to deal with pandemic-related matters that require the public and private sectors to work together, excluding health issues.
Power was appointed as chair, with David Thodey, Greg Combet, Jane Halton, Paul Little, and Catherine Tanna named as commissioners. Late last month ex-Productivity Commission chair Peter Harris joined the group as chief executive officer.
The inquiry heard one of the five commissioners has asked not to be paid, while four would receive $2000 per day.
PM&C has now revealed Combet, Halton and Little worked two days per week, which would equate to roughly $108,000 over six months. Tanna worked one day per week, and would receive about $54,000. Thodey has not received a daily rate.
The terms of reference for the commission were published last week.
It states the functions of the commission will be to: mobilise whole-of-economy effort to ensure the economic and social impacts from the global COVID-19 pandemic are anticipated and mitigated; assist the government to ensure all resources are marshalled in a coordinated and effective manner; and drive the development and coordination of staged and proportionate plans on critical non-health factors including:
- transport and logistics challenges,
- industry coordination and adjustment,
- labour and workforce planning,
- delivery of essential services and maintenance of critical infrastructure,
- support to vulnerable Australians,
- input of scientific and technological expertise.
Independent MP Zali Steggall recently told Guardian Australia she was concerned about the powerful group. She argued the commission needed “transparency, proper governance, and independent reporting”, as well as a “clear disclosure process for conflicts of interest”.