CANBERRA, AAP – A prominent champion of gas with a history of criticism against renewable energy has been put in charge of the Climate Change Authority, which was set up to provide independent policy advice.

Shareholder activists have described Grant King’s appointment as a “sorry state of affairs”.

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility fears the agency is being stacked with fossil fuel lobbyists.

Mr King, a former Origin Energy boss and Business Council of Australia president, has been installed as chairman.

Susie Smith, who manages an industry-led climate change association, has also become a member.

Corporate governance expert Dan Gocher said the appointments were deeply cynical.

“The Australian public should be outraged that the Morrison government’s response to the Black Summer and recent flooding across the east coast is to further entrench the fossil fuel lobby in bodies responsible for dealing with the climate crisis,” he said.

The National Farmers’ Federation has welcomed the appointments, applauding Mr King for his work on a review looking at low-cost carbon abatement.

“The NFF has a core focus on ensuring the design and implementation of emission reduction and climate change responses do not disadvantage farmers,” Tony Mahar said.

“The independent advice of the Climate Change Authority will be an important contributor to this increasingly important debate.”

The CCA relies on tasks from the federal government and has not been asked to look at model achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

Outgoing chair Wendy Craik has previously told Senate estimates hearings the advisory body’s advice was not sought by the government before it announced its climate change policies.

The authority was going to be axed entirely a few years ago by the Morrison government.

Independent MP for Warringah Zali Steggall says the new appointments are a disappointing backwards step.

“These new appointments are completely at odds with the authority’s purpose to give independent advice on climate, science and policy to the government,” she said.

Mr King is currently on the board of CWP renewables, a wind and solar farm company.

He is also chairman of HSBC Australia, a multinational investment bank.

Announcing the appointment, Energy Minister Angus Taylor described Mr King as a “thought leader”.