Comms Declare campaigns against Chevron partnership with Australia Day

Comms Declare has launched a campaign demanding the National Australia Day Council (NADC) drop Chevron as its diversity and inclusion partner, suggesting that the energy corporation’s vested interests in the future of fossil fuels may have influenced the Council’s selection of Australian of the Year recipients.

The campaign launches off the back of comments made by Grace Tame at the Purpose Conference in Sydney in October, with the 2021 Australian of the Year recipient revealing that she was given a $40,000 budget for travel reimbursement on the condition that she did “free gigs” for Chevron, as a NADC sponsor.

“They provide you with a capped out sum of $40,000 worth of travel reimbursement on the condition that you do free gigs for their sponsors, which are, Chevron… noooo, no way, nah,” said Tame.

“So I did do some free gigs for their other Australia Day councils in the state and territory locations, one of which was in Perth and on the day they wanted me to do something for Chevron, and I just said ‘nup’ and I didn’t do it.”

Comms Declare also points to an analysis the organisation conducted of the 2022 state and territory panels responsible for selecting and recognising Australians as part of NADC’s Australia Day proceedings.

As part of its sponsorship, Chevron has one representative on each of the selection panels in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland, which, according to Comms Declare, are the only states or territories that “did not recognise any Australians that worked in climate and environment in any category”.

The campaign follow’s Comms Declare’s campaign to ban fossil fuel advertising, which the organisation’s founder Belinda Noble spoke to Mumbrella about in August. The campaign has led the City of Sydney to investigate the possibility of banning fossil fuel advertising on its properties and at its events, and has also seen NSW Greens MP Sue Higginson introduce a bill on the matter into NSW Parliament.

“The Chevron sponsorship shows our national brand is for sale, along with the government’s climate credibility,” said Comms Declare founder Belinda Noble. “Chevron is the world’s second largest greenhouse gas polluter and paid just $30 in income tax last year while raking in more than $9 billion.”

“It’s hard to imagine a less appropriate sponsor of any national event than a fossil fuel company whose pollution is actively causing the destruction of our Aussie lifestyle and natural wonders.

“It’s clear that Chevron staff are influencing the selection of Australians of the Year and that is stopping the recognition of citizens that work on the biggest challenge the country faces – global warming.

“We need a tobacco-style ban on all fossil fuel sponsorships to disentangle our public institutions from this polluting influence,” she added.

As part of the campaign, the industry coalition has penned a letter to NADC CEO Karlie Brand to express its concerns about the partnership.

In response to the campaign, a Chevron Australia spokesperson said: “Chevron Australia has been honoured to support the National Australia Day Council and Auspire as their inaugural National Diversity and Inclusion Partner.

“As part of the three-year partnership, which began in 2020, we’ve been proud to support the Australian of the Year Awards and a range of programs designed to inspire and promote inclusion, foster unity and connect people of all ages and backgrounds.

“In August 2022, we advised the National Australia Day Council that we would not seek to renew the partnership when our current agreement ends in June 2023.

“We acknowledge there has been commentary about the support provided by the energy industry to arts and cultural programs and events, however, our decision is based on our focus to support the needs of the most vulnerable members of the communities where we live and work.”

Comms Declare has acknowledged that for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the 26th of January is not a day of celebration, pledging its “commitment to being a part of the journey of truth, treaty and voice for a shared nation we can all be proud of'”.


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