The revolving door between federal parliament and the fossil fuel industry continues to spin, this time from the Labor side of the house, with former deputy prime minister and treasurer Wayne Swan appointed as a director of Stanwell Corporation.
The appointment to the board of the state-government owned coal and gas power generator was announced late Friday afternoon last week, in a joint statement from Queensland’s Labor deputy premier Jackie Trad, and the minister for energy.
Stanwell owns nearly half the state’s centralised coal and gas generation capacity, and 40 per cent of Queensland’s coal-fired generating capacity.
“From bulk water and reliable electricity supplies, to the management of ports, railways and investments, these agencies have impacts on the lives of the more than five million people living in Queensland,” Trad said.
“The new appointees would bring with them “decades of invaluable public and private sector management knowledge and experience at the highest levels,” state energy minister Anthony Lynham added.
Stanwell’s coal fleet includes two of Australia’s younger generators, the Stanwell Power Station in Rockhampton and Tarong North Power Station in the South Burnett.
Just over two years ago, the Palaszczuk government announced that $53.8 million would be invested in a series of major projects at Stanwell, including $24.3 million on major overhauls and $14.4 million for a control system upgrade, along with some smaller projects.
Interestingly, Brisbane Times recalls that in 2012, then leader of the opposition Annastacia Palaszczuk had slammed the LNP Campbell government for announcing LNP appointments to government-owned companies at 5pm on a Friday afternoon. Labor released the names of its new appointees at 2.47pm on Friday.
The paper also reports that current LNP deputy opposition leader Tim Mander called Swan’s appointment “brazen political cronyism” – either ignoring to failing to see any irony in this view.
“Appointing Labor mates to taxpayer-funded gigs doesn’t pass the pub test,” Mander said.
As RenewEconomy has frequently reported, the ties are strong between the federal Coalition government and the mining and resources industry and its lobby groups.
Earlier this year, former Minerals Council of Australia CEO Brendan Pearson was tapped as a senior adviser to Scott Morrison, shifting him up from the office of the minister for finance, Mathias Cormann, to Morrison’s inner sanctum.
Pearson’s promotion also put him back working side by side with his former MCA deputy chief executive, John Kunkel, who currently occupies the key position of Scott Morrison’s chief of staff.
In the other direction, former Liberal minister Helen Coonan was in May appointed as chair of the Minerals Council of Australia, which has led the efforts of Australia’s coal lobby, running pro-coal campaigns both inside and outside of Parliament.
And in Queensland, Australia’s longest serving federal resources and energy minister, ex-Coalition stalwart Ian Macfarlane has been chief executive of the Queensland Resources Council since 2016 and is also non-executive director of Woodside Petroleum.
His predecessor, Labor’s martin Ferguson, has worked as an advocate for the gas and oil lobby group, APPEA. Another Labor industry minister, came from Woodside Petroleum.