Tanna departs COVID-19 Commission

By Shannon Jenkins

Monday August 17, 2020

Catherine Tanna (AAP Image/Peter Rae)

Catherine Tanna has officially stepped down from her role as commissioner with the National COVID-19 Commission Advisory Board.

The NCC said Tanna had departed to focus on guiding her business, Energy Australia, “through the challenges posed by the COVID pandemic”.

Tanna’s contribution as commissioner included helping to introduce COVIDSafe work practices, according to NCC chair Neville Power.

“The starting point to creating jobs and supporting our economic recovery is access for industry, businesses and households to reliable, low-cost, and lower emissions energy,” he said.

“Ms Tanna has been instrumental in consulting and providing advice and we thank her for her contribution.”

Tanna said she was grateful to the prime minister and the public for having had “the opportunity to do something to help” Australians during the pandemic.

“We’ve sought the views of business owners, business managers, peak bodies, experts and consumer groups. Their candid perspectives have revealed a market-led path for Australia’s economic recovery,” she said.

“The country has some $100 billion of new energy projects already proposed and we can unlock the ones we need.”

Tanna’s departure follows the resignation of her fellow commissioner, Greg Combet, last month, and the appointment of six new members as the group shifted to an advisory board.

Read more: The Briefing: how will the new National COVID-9 Commission Advisory affect policy?

This week the group came under fire after Power confirmed the NCC had asked the government to underwrite new investment in gas pipelines, but would not be looking at renewable energy as part of economic recovery measures.

“Our focus has been on where private sector investment is prepared to invest in the short term to create jobs and economic growth,” Power said.

“A lot of those projects that we’ve had discussions with are looking for substantial subsidy or support and substantial timeframes to get there.

“There’s been a lot of conceptual discussion around renewables and their role in [the] recovery but there’s been a lot less specific projects put forward, that I’m aware of.”

The recommendations surrounding investment in gas infrastructure were originally made in a report from the NCC’s manufacturing taskforce, which was leaked to the media back in May. The senate inquiry into the federal government’s response to COVID-19 this week heard that a final version of the report was delivered to the government in late May.

Deputy secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Simon Duggan told the inquiry that PM&C officials had given the government advice about the report recommendations, but did not say whether the government would act on the advice.

Read more: COVID-19 Coordination Commission’s manufacturing taskforce wants to grow Australia’s gas industry to build post-pandemic economy


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