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The Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee (ERAC) rejects the claims by The Australia Institute (TAI) in its report released on 23 March 2022. TAI have criticised how Members of ERAC (Members) managed conflicts of interest in regard to the CCS Method, which was approved by the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction in October 2021. The documents on which TAI relies make it very clear that Members have disclosed relevant interests to ERAC. It is also clear from those documents that Members have complied with their legal obligations. Any assertion that they have not complied with their legal obligations is incorrect, unfair, and potentially defamatory.
Under the legislation, it is a matter for ERAC to consider how interests, and potential or actual conflicts of interest, are to be managed. The legislation governs the membership, purpose and operations of ERAC. TAI acknowledges that there was no breach of the legal requirements.
ERAC is an independent committee that helps ensure the integrity of the methods at the heart of the Emissions Reduction Fund scheme. It cannot do its job effectively unless it is comprised of qualified and experienced people with professional backgrounds in relevant areas. The coverage of the Emissions Reduction Fund is extremely broad, covering all areas of the economy. Inevitably, potential conflicts of interest will arise from time to time. How these matters are handled is of the utmost importance. ERAC has rigorous policies and procedures in place regarding ongoing disclosure of interests, maintenance of a register of interests and decision-making protocols in the event of a real or perceived conflict of interest. External guidance is taken where required. The declaration or existence of an interest does not per se preclude a Member from providing their expertise (which they must hold and for which they are appointed) to ERAC in the information gathering or discussion stage, or from being part of the decision-making process.
As Chair of ERAC, I am satisfied that the Members discharged their disclosure duties responsibly, in accordance with the legislation, and ERAC was appropriately and continuously informed of the nature of these interests. I am also satisfied that any potential conflicts were then managed appropriately by ERAC – in regard to the CCS Method and all other methods within its responsibility.
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