04/05/2021 - 15:50

COVID Commission wound up

04/05/2021 - 15:50

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The federal government has quietly wound up the Nev Power-chaired COVID-19 Commission advisory board, just more than 13 months after it was established.

COVID Commission wound up
Nev Power spent 13 months chairing the Commission.

The federal government has quietly wound up the Nev Power-chaired COVID-19 Commission advisory board, just more than 13 months after it was established.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison issued a statement late yesterday saying the commission has concluded its work on behalf of the government.

“Australia has come a long way since I announced the board on 25 March 2020,” he said.

“We have moved past the emergency phase of the COVID-19 response and are now on the path of economic recovery.

“Australia’s strong health and economic circumstances and our strong outlook make it the right time for the board to conclude its work.”

Ascertaining the advisory board's impact is not easy as much of its work was conducted behind closed doors in Canberra, especially after July 2020 when it was tasked with providing advice on Australia’s economic recovery.

That's when its name was changed from the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission.

The advisory board attracted a lot of scrutiny for its work around the theme of a gas-led recovery but there was little transparency on this. 

The prime minister said it provided a real-time business perspective on critical aspects of the government’s COVID-19 response.

“They used their experience and networks to help with troubleshooting in the crisis management phase of the pandemic, helped businesses safely reopen with COVIDSafe plans, and provided a business perspective to help inform our policies for economic recovery,” he said.

The winding up will allow Mr Power to focus on his board roles, which include being chairman of Perth Airport, the Foundation for the WA Museum and the Royal Flying Doctors Federation Board and deputy chairman of Strike Energy.

Mr Power shed some light on the board’s work when he delivered a speech two months ago to the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ governance summit.

He said the board’s role had changed over time.

“We have gone through three overlapping phases,” Mr Power said.

“Our initial role was assisting government with troubleshooting and crisis management.

“We focused on solving problems and preserving as many jobs and businesses as we could as the restrictions were imposed to control the spread of the virus.

“Board members used their networks and experience to help address shortages in personal protective equipment for our frontline workers.

“We worked with manufacturers to ensure essential products could be supplied.

“We helped unblock supply chains and move food supplies to regional and remote areas.”

Mr Power said the second phase focused on the safe reopening of business.

“We focused on working with government and industry to develop practical guidance to businesses to develop risk-based COVIDSafe plans, including the development of communications to culturally and linguistically diverse communities, to help businesses reopen safely.”

He described the third phase as being about recovery and reopening the economy.

“In 2021, we are focused on the two big transitions for the Australian economy: the transitions in the workforce and the transitions by businesses" Mr Power said.

“In addition, we have a role to test ideas in the lead-up to the May 2021 federal budget and will provide a business perspective on accelerating the economic recovery, the evolving public health response and continuing to operate safely while we live with the virus.”

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