National Covid commission under fire – will it deliver for manufacturing?

The make up of the Prime Minister’s National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC) has come under fire for its bias towards gas and mining industries.

There are two bureaucrats, Chairman Neville Power is a miner and energy executive, Andrew Liveris hails from Dow which utilises gas, Catherine Tanna is managing director of Energy Australia, and James Fazzino was former CEO of fertiliser and explosives group, Incitec Pivot.

The Commission is tasked to coordinate advice to the Australian Government on actions to anticipate and mitigate the economic and social impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic (see full terms of reference below).

Sorting out Australia’s dumb energy policies bequeathed to the Coalition by the former Labor government is undoubtedly a first order issue for any recovery.

A mad rush to export gas saw us lose our former energy advantage, with our companies now forced to pay the same price for gas as those in energy-starved Japan and South Korea.

However there is more than one issue that faces the economy, as our campaign to crowd source a new deal plan for manufacturing so clearly showed.

So who can SME and high tech manufacturing rely on in the absence of anyone on the commission from wider industry such as CSL, Cochlear, not to mention the likes of ANCA, tna Solutions and Carbon Revolution?

Well James Fazzino can most certainly be relied upon.

Yes Incitec Pivot manufactures fertiliser, but it also operates the global Dyno Noble explosives business which is deeply into robotic, AI and IoT technologies.

And Liveris, as the leading light in President Obama’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) which exhaustively analysed America’s technological capabilities is an absolute champion of advanced manufacturing.

Liveris leads the Covid commission manufacturing taskforce of Fazzino, Innex Willox, CEO of Australian Industry Group, Jens Goennemann of the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre, Ben Eade of the Manufacturing Australia group of large manufacturers, and trade unionists Paul Bastian and Daniel Walton.

Professor Roy Green, a member of the @AuManufacturing editorial advisory board, is advising this group.

The Covid commission is certainly top heavy with big manufacturers.

Given the composition of these groups, Liveris’s excellent report for the Prime Minister’s Manufacturing Taskforce established by the former Labor government, and Liveris’s AMP, I have no doubt that SME concerns and the wide range of issues raised during our new deal plan process will feature strongly in advice to government.

It will not be all about energy, it will indeed include our community’s concerns.

What the Prime Minister decides to do, is for the future to know.

The functions of the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC) will be to:

1. 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

2. drive the development and co-ordination of staged and proportionate plans on critical non-health factors including:
transport and logistics challenges

# industry co-ordination 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.

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