Globetrotting billionaire and Saudi oil director Andrew Liveris is back to remind us all that gas is great.
This time it’s to push a code of conduct that he claims will revive the so-called “gas-led recovery” that Morrison was so keen to spruik last year.
Liveris’ latest intervention comes at a critical time for his beloved gas industry. A lot has changed since Morrison bet Australia’s future on gas last year. The mood in Canberra has shifted and a “gas-led recovery” has been widely discredited, including by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).
Today the AEMO released a statement saying gas consumption is likely to fall over the next 20 years and may virtually disappear because it can’t compete with renewables. So it’s little surprise that Liveris has popped up again.
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Liveris claims a code of conduct will act as a springboard for the government to move forward on a gas hub and a controversial transcontinental pipeline to boost the industry — policies the industry has been pushing for for years.
In reporting the comments, The Australian described the billionaire as head of the government’s national COVID-19 commission’s manufacturing taskforce. But Crikey understands this role ended on September 22, 2020.
As Crikey has repeatedly noted, Liveris is deeply conflicted when it comes to his calls for a gas recovery. His personal fortune is heavily tied to the petrochemical industry — something that is frequently glossed over by the business press.
But the former Trump adviser is a master of spinning his personal brand to suit the politics of the day. He once famously told the former US president that he “tingle[d] with pride listening to him”, but in January he was blasting Trump for inciting the Capitol riot.
Last year he co-authored an opinion piece calling on Australia to “rid the seas of plastic” despite the fact that he served for 14 years as chief executive of Dow Chemicals, the world’s largest manufacturer of plastic.
Hypocrisy and spin aside, it’s clear which side Liveris’ bread is buttered on.
Liveris currently sits on the board of the Saudi government-owned Saudi Aramco, alongside senior members of the Saudi ministry. He is also a one-time senior adviser to the Saudi government’s Public Investment Fund, run by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, which is now being targeted by advocates for its role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
He also sits on the board of the global engineering and mining services company Worley, which has a clear and obvious interest in increased activity in the oil and gas industry in Australia and around the world.
But apparently all this doesn’t matter to some of the business journalists at The Oz and AFR, who are still happy to platform Liveris as an objective voice on manufacturing, no matter how conflicted he is.