The master of reinvention is at it again. From Trump-loving chemical boss to Biden-backing environmentalist, Australian billionaire Andrew Liveris knows no bounds when it comes to saying one thing and doing another.
Today Liveris has found a top spot in The Australian’s business section to declare himself the mastermind behind US President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure package. The story features a photo of the Darwin-born oil magnate on a yacht in Sydney where he was “quietly celebrating” the passing of the bill from afar. (Quietly celebrating while on the phone to The Australian and posing for a photo).
According to the story, Liveris has been “working the phones” from Sydney to co-chair Build Together, a US lobby group that represents CEOs from some of America’s biggest companies including General Motors, Walmart and defence manufacturer Raytheon Technologies.
The former chair of US plastics giant Dow Chemical said the bill would pave the way for some of the biggest decisions of this century, “especially of the digital and green kind”.
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It’s quite the statement coming for someone who sits on the board of Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil and gas company. But the former Trump adviser is a master of spinning his personal brand to suit the politics of the day. Since returning to Australia he has become a close adviser to Scott Morrison, paving the way for a “gas-led” recovery even as his personal fortune is tied to the petrochemical industry.
Liveris’ support for Biden is a long way from his days as a Trump adviser when he joined the former president on stage at a rally in Michigan, declaring he “tingled with pride” listening to him speak, and positioning himself as the mastermind of Trump’s “America first” manufacturing policy. But it’s not the first time the billionaire has gone to great lengths to try to be all things to all people.
Last year he helped pen a breathless op-ed calling for the need to “rid the seas of plastic”. This was despite the fact that Dow is one of the biggest manufacturers of plastic, and that Saudi Aramco is the fifth biggest producer of plastics, according to charity Minderoo (whose board, ironically, includes Liveris).
It’s remarkable that despite all the hypocrisy, Liveris still enjoys a relatively clean image in Australia, where he is regularly called upon to give commentary as a “manufacturing expert”, including on the ABC’s Q+A. Perhaps it’s time to call Liveris what he is: a shameless self-promoter who is able to make, serve and eat his own cake.