Designed to “better coordinate work between the private and public sector”, the commission will see “CEOs talking to CEOs” to come up with national solutions to problems, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
The commission will essentially, among other things, see businesses working together on issues such as job preservation through repurposing, meaning that workforces no longer gainfully employed will be redeployed to other roles suffering shortages.
“It’s about the public sector working with the private sector. It’s about better coordinating the efforts that are happening within the public sector, and to do that we’ve been operating with what has been called the National Coordinating Mechanism, but that has essentially been done by governments at the state and federal level.
“Whether it’s repurposing manufacturing lines, whether it’s re-tasking workforces, one day taking calls for travel companies now taking calls at Centerlink, ensuring we’re repurposing the workforce effort... There will be many other problems that need solving.”
According to the PM, the commission will be led by Neville Power, the former head of the Fortescue Metals Group, which operates in the mining sector.
“Neville Power, I’ve appointed as executive chairman of that commission to help us solve those problems and work through them with all arms of government, right across government,” the PM said.
A board will also be appointed, featuring a number of “eminent” Australians, including former politician Greg Combet; former public servant Jane Holton; the former head of Toll Holdings, Paul Little; the head of Energy Australia and a member of the Reserve Bank board, Catherine Tanner; the chair of CSIRO and former head of Telstra, David Thody; the secretary of Prime Minister and cabinet, Phil Gaetjens; and the secretary of the Home Affairs Department, Mike Pezzullo.
“They will come to us and say, Prime Minister we need to do this, we need to authorise this, we recommend you take this action to get these problems sorted,” Mr Morrison said.
“I want to give Australians confidence that we’ve got the best people in this country working to solve the problems and challenges that are going to confront us.”
'Minimising and mitigating the impacts on business'
Also addressing the media, Mr Power said he stepped up to this role because Australia, more than ever, needs to focus on “minimising and mitigating the impact of the coronavirus on our businesses, on our communities, on our people”.
“And that’s for the preservation of jobs as much as we possibly can, given the constraints that we have around the restrictions from the coronavirus,” he said.
Mr Power said his role will be "looking for those problems" and opportunities to bring businesses together to solve them.
"Where there is a workforce that is no longer gainfully employed and where there is a workforce that's needed.
"Where there's equipment that can be redeployed. Where we need to intervene to protect our critical supply chains and our utilities, and also, very importantly, looking to the future because we know that this virus will come and go and we want to be well positioned to make sure that we restore people's jobs and livelihoods as quickly as we possibly can afterwards," Mr Power said.