Who’s really calling the shots?

A huge source of power for the Minerals Council of Australia is a secretive revolving door that sees key staff go back and forth between the highest positions in politicians’ offices, the public service, coal companies, and the coal lobby. 

Here are just some of the powerful players behind the scenes.

In Scott Morrison’s office:

John Kunkel is the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, but before that was the deputy CEO of the Minerals Council from 2010-2016, and the Chief Advisor, Government Relations at Rio Tinto from 2016-2018.

Brendan Pearson is Special Adviser at the Office of the Prime Minister. Before that he was the CEO of the Minerals Council from 2014 to 2017.

Current Minerals Council of Australia staff and directors:

Helen Coonan is the current Chair of the Minerals Council. Before that, she was a Cabinet Minister during the Howard Government from 2004-2007.

Tania Constable is the current CEO of the Minerals Council, and has held a number of senior roles in Government, including being the Sunrise Commissioner for Australia and Timor Leste during the controversial development of the Joint Petroleum Development Area and Greater Sunrise Project.

Sid Marris is currently the Minerals Council’s General Manager – Strategy, State & Territory Relationships. Previously he spent almost 9 years at the Minerals Council before becoming Senior Advisor – Energy, Climate Change, Resources and Northern Australia for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Sid Marris had also been the Canberra bureau chief for The Australian before moving to the Minerals Council. 

Matthew Steen was an adviser to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott before joining the Australian Coal Association in 2013, which was then subsumed by the Minerals Council. Matthew is now the Director – Economics & Industry Policy at the Minerals Council.

Leanne Fry worked for the Liberal Party before joining the Minerals Council of Australia as Manager, Creative and Design 4 years ago.

Simon Troeth is the General Manager, Industry Positioning and Engagement at the Minerals Council. He previously worked in John Howard’s office and the Premier of Victoria’s, amongst many roles in government for the Liberal Party, before joining the Minerals Council in 2017.

James Sorahan was a policy adviser to the former Minister for Resources, Martin Ferguson, and before that Minister Chris Bowen. He is currently the Director, Taxation for the Minerals Council of Australia and the Executive Director of the Minerals Council of Australia – Victoria Division.

Patrick Gibbons is the Minerals Council’s Director  – Climate Change, Environment and Energy. Patrick has previously worked for former Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, as an adviser for many years and in adviser roles in other Liberal governments at state and federal level.

Mark McCallum is the CEO of Coal21 and was the General Manager – Climate and Energy for the Minerals Council from 2018 to 2020. He is also Chair and Co-Founder of Harry Communications, which has worked on projects with the Prime Minister. 

Ben Dillaway  is the Senior Manager – Media to the Minerals Council of Australia. Previously he was the Deputy Chief of Staff and former media adviser to the Hon. Steve Ciobo while Ciobo was a senior Government Minister.

Mark Bonner is Principal Adviser, Climate Change at the Minerals Council of Australia. He has held several senior roles in Federal and Queensland government departments. 

Demus King is the General Manager of Trade, Investment and Investor Relations at the Minerals Council. He has previously held a range of senior roles in Government departments including the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, and also worked as the Manager of Government Relations at BHP from 2017 – 2018.

Megan Davison has been at the Minerals Council of Australia since 2007. Before this she worked for the Australian Greenhouse Office, the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources, and the Victorian Department of Primary Industries. 

Ellen Butler is the Manager of Engagement for the Minerals Council of Australia, and held various roles in Government departments from 2005 – 2012. She also worked as a Government Relations adviser for Shell from 2012 – 2015.

Josh Cosgrave is the Director – Low Emissions Technology at Minerals Council of Australia. He previously has held roles in the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and Resources, Energy and Tourism.

We need our politicians to answer to the community, not the coal lobby – but this won’t happen until we put an end to the revolving door. Take action and call on companies and politicians to Cut All Ties.

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