Revolving Doors

Matthew Canavan

Matthew Canavan

Fossil Fuels | LNP | Revolving Doors

Current Position

  • Elected to the Senate for Queensland 2013. Re-elected 2016, and 2022.

Previous Positions

Parliamentary service

  • Elected to the Senate for Queensland 2013. Re-elected 2016.

Ministerial appointments

  • Minister for Resources and Northern Australia 2017-2020
  • Minister for Northern Australia, 2016.
  • Minister for Resources and Northern Australia from 2016 to 2017.
  • Cabinet Minister from 2016 to 2017.
  • Minister for Resources and Northern Australia from 2017 to 2020

Parliamentary party positions

  • The Nationals Party Whip in the Senate from 2015 to 2016.

Mining Connections

  • As Minister for Northern Australia, Canavan is responsible for the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), a $5 billion fund to subsidise infrastructure in the north. Research has found the board is stacked with coal and mining connections.
  • In October 2019 Canavan signalled federal support for an expansion of the Vales Point power station in NSW and a feasibility study for the Collinsville power station in north Queensland, making it clear he wanted both coal-fired projects to proceed.
  • Matthew Canavan’s brother, John Canavan, was an executive at Peabody Energy from January 2011, occupying the role of senior business manager and then director of mergers and acquisitions. In June 2018 it was reported that John Canavan had set up a new entity with another former Peabody executive to bid for the Rolleston Coal Mine, then owned by Glencore; John Canavan now owns a 7 per cent interest in the mine. The Federal Government register of pecuniary interests shows Matthew Canavan had borrowed money from his brother. The amount of the loan is not specified.
  • In 2018, Matthew Canavan and Barnaby Joyce recorded a video at Parliament House regarding government funding of the construction of Rookwood Weir Project in the Fitzroy Basin catchment. Peabody Energy proposed several coal mines in the catchment at that time, including Olive Downs North, Curragh South, Moorvale West, and Willunga all of which would require the water security provide by the Rookwood Weir Project.
    • In the video Matthew Canavan claimed the federal LNP government had waited more than 600 days for the Queensland Labor government to fund the other half of the project. Queensland government-owned corporation SunWater had prepared the draft Environmental Impact Statement, required for the project’s approval, for the lower Fitzroy River infrastructure project.
  • There is a possible connection between Nicole Hollows  (who became chief executive of SunWater in 2016 after her role as managing director of AMCI Australia, and was chief executive of Macarthur Coal until Oct 2011 – assisting in the Peabody takeover of Macarthur Coal before departing), John Canavan (mergers and acquisitions manager at Peabody, brother of National Party MP Matt Canavan), and National Party president Larry Anthony (non-executive director of Sunwater Dec 2013-Oct 2015). According to her LinkedIn account, Nicole Hollows is currently both chief executive officer of SunWater Limited and non-executive director of Downer EDI Limited, a mine contracting firm.
  • The South Galilee Coal Project, an open-cut and underground thermal coal-mining operation in the Galilee Basin, received state and Commonwealth environmental approvals during the period Hollows was managing director of AMCI Australia. AMCI is the proponent of the South Galilee Coal Project.
  • SunWater is represented by Brisbane legal firm McCullough Robertson Lawyers. The law firm also represent Adani and the Queensland Government.
  • The head of Galilee Water Pty Ltd is an ex Queensland Labor treasurer, Keith de Lacy. According to the Mackay Conservation Group, Galilee Water Pty Ltd was planning to take water “through two initial diversions from the Cape and Campaspe Rivers in the upper reaches of the Burdekin River and store it for water supply to the Galilee Basin. Galilee Water is a dollar company headed by Keith de Lacy the instigator of Cubbie Station which proposes to take up to 214,000ML/year. That is 38 percent of the volume of Sydney Harbour.”
  • Canavan, as a National Party senator, is connected with Mark Vaile, chairman of Whitehaven Coal, previously federal Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister. Canavan is among a group of hardline National Party members who are pushing for new coal- red power plants despite the overwhelming evidence that renewable energy is now cheaper to build than new coal.


This entry in the #RevolvingDoors series has been produced from the Dirty Power Report authored by Michael West and Simone Marsh in collaboration with Greenpeace.

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