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Minister dismisses gas conflict concern

Energy Minister Angus Taylor has dismissed concerns over whether the advisory panel who recommended a gas-fired economic recovery from the pandemic will personally benefit from the plan.

The government outlined its gas plan last week, as recommended by its hand-picked COVID commission which includes energy executives.

Mr Taylor says the government receives advice from multiple groups all the time, all with varying interests.

“We make the decisions and that’s what we’ve done here. They have to be the right decisions for Australia and we’re very confident that they are,” he told the National Press Club on Tuesday.

“It’s not something that I’m even focused on,” Mr Taylor said when pressed if he knew whether the panel stood to personally benefit.

“I’m focused on delivering a plan that is right for the country,” he said.

The COVID commission is headed by Nev Power, who was asked in June by Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie if he could guarantee no members of the commission stood to personally gain from the flagged gas expansion.

“I can’t do that Senator,” he said at the time.

“I don’t know what their individual circumstances are and it depends on what happens.”

Mr Power – who is a non-executive director of Strike Energy – said he wouldn’t attend board meetings or vote on strategic matters while in his commission role, to prevent conflict of interest issues.

The commission has also included EnergyAustralia’s managing director Catherine Tanna, property sector boss Paul Little, health expert Jane Halton and former Labor minister Greg Combet.

The gas push has come from the manufacturing task force, which was asked what would create jobs.

The head of that task force was Andrew Liveris, who is on the board of a Saudi oil and gas company.

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