Protecting our infrastructure from corporate influence
Infrastructure decisions shouldn't be influenced by corporations who stand to gain from them.
From key energy infrastructure to new transport projects, big infrastructure decisions have enormous impact on the way our society is shaped. Too often, however, these decisions are made in the interests of big fossil fuel corporations and car manufacturers, and not in the interests of the broader community and the environment. Having a truly independent Infrastructure Australia, the government body that reviews large-scale infrastructure projects, is a necessary component of ensuring crucial infrastructure decisions are carried out in the public interest. Recently the Labor government moved the Infrastructure Australia Amendment (Independent Review) Bill 2023 (based on the outcomes of an independent review into Infrastructure Australia). This Bill unfortunately does little to address the major problem of Infrastructure Australia: it still allows for people who work for fossil fuel companies to have significant roles on the body.
I have moved a motion to amend the bill to explicitly ban fossil fuel executives to act as Commissioners of Infrastructure Australia. The vote on this Bill and my amendment will take place later in May 2023.
You can watch my speech in full:
In my speech, I highlight a number of individuals who have held, or currently hold, Board roles at Infrastructure Australia who worked for fossil fuel companies. These people all bring an enormous bias and, I believe, an enormous conflict of interest when advising on infrastructure projects to the government. The government should not be advised on key infrastructure projects by people who stand to gain from particular infrastructure being built or, indeed, not being built. They do not have the perspective of delivering infrastructure that benefits everyday people or of delivering infrastructure in the interests of the community.
These Board members have the perspective of the government stepping in to spend billions of dollars on infrastructure meant to facilitate bigger profits for massive coal, oil and gas corporations. They also, in their time in these senior industry roles, establish significant relationships and networks with key people in fossil fuel corporations who will then have a direct mouthpiece through them to the government. With the consolidated three-commissioner structure of this revamped Infrastructure Australia, if one of these roles is occupied, for example, by a director of Santos, that would be giving Santos an incredible influence over government infrastructure decision-making.
Where the Greens stand
The Greens believe that infrastructure projects should focus on people and communities, not corporate profits. The LNP spent 9 years in parliament co-opting projects and funds for their or their donors' gain, which has substantially undermined our ability to respond to the challenges of climate change. We've outlined principles for infrastructure planning that support sustainable development.