Neville Power will head a national emergency commission to handle the coronavirus crisis. Image by Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS


New commission set up to navigate crisis

2020-03-25 14:31:20

A commission has been set up to advise Australian governments on what should be done to tackle the social and economic effects of coronavirus.

Sweeping closures of businesses and a clampdown on travel have led to tens of thousands of jobs losses, with at least 800,000 more expected.

“That commission’s job, put simply, is to solve problems,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

It will provide advice to meet the challenges ahead to cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus.

The National COVID-19 Coordination Commission will be chaired by Neville Power, who runs Perth Airport and used to head up Fortescue Metals.

“I think that Australia, right now more than anything, needs to focus on minimising and mitigating the impact of the coronavirus on our businesses, on our communities, on our people,” Mr Power told reporters.

“So my role is going to be looking for those problems and looking for opportunities where we can join businesses together.”

The commission will look where there is a workforce that is no longer gainfully employed and where workers are needed, and where equipment can be redeployed.

It will also intervene to protect critical supply chains and utilities.

“We know that this virus will come and go,” Mr Power said.

“We want to be well-positioned to make sure that we restore people’s jobs and livelihoods as quickly as we can afterwards.”


* Neville Power (Chair).

* David Thodey AO – former Telstra CEO – (Deputy Chair).

* Greg Combet – former Labor minister and ACTU secretary.

* Jane Halton – former top public servant.

* Paul Little – former Managing director of Toll Holdings.

* Catherine Tanna – Managing director of EnergyAustralia and member of Reserve Bank of Australia board.

* Philip Gaetjens – Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary.

* Mike Pezzullo – Department of Home Affairs secretary.