Hunt goes in energy-environment merger, climate denier to head resources

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Turnbull names pro-nuclear Josh Frydenberg to head combined energy-environment portfolio, climate denier Matt Canavan to head resources.

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Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during a press conference at Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices, in Sydney, Australia, Sunday July 10, 2016. After a tight election result, Mr Turnbull has formally claimed victory after the July 2 federal election. (AAP Image/Paul Miller) NO ARCHIVING
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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced a significant reshuffle in the energy, resources and environment portfolios in his ministry, with former environment minister Greg Hunt shifted to industry and innovation and climate denier Matt Canavan to head resources and northern Australia.

The most significant move, however, is the combination of the environment and energy industries under a super portfolio to be headed by Josh Frydenberg, a strong proponent of nuclear energy.

Climate activists may well welcome the long called-for merger of energy and environment – and Labor’s shadow ministry had already been merged under the leadership of Mark Butler – but may be nervous about the appointment of Frydenberg.

The Victoria MP has long been a supporter of nuclear energy, and has shown he is also a strong supporter of the coal industry, recently insisting it had a strong future, describing it as a “living, breathing, success story.” The minister now responsible for the environment has argued that there is a “strong moral case” for new coal mines.

Frydenberg will have responsibility for the renewable energy target, and the future of agencies such as the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which the Coalition wants to strip of its remaining $1.3 billion of legislated funds.

He has been highly critical of Labor’s more ambitious renewable energy targets.

“We have a strong emissions reductions target. Our plan is clear, it’s part of a global agreement reached in Paris with more than 170 nations from around the world. We support a measured and sensible transition that does not impose unnecessary costs on Australian families and businesses,” he said in Adelaide in May.

Frydenberg also has strong views on nuclear energy. He made it one of his three major issues when he made his maiden speech to parliament in October, 2010, and then made a series of speeches and articles pushing the technology.

In The Australian newspaper in early 2011, Frydenberg said nuclear was safe and cheap, and expected that sometime soon nuclear plants could likely be constructed within 2 ½ years. He also quoted nuclear advocate Ziggy Switkowski as saying that Australia could be 90 per cent powered by nuclear energy by 2050.

He has supported the establishment of a nuclear waste facility on the South Australian property of a former Liberal MP.

On coal, and the Adani coal project in Queensland, Frydenberg said: “There is a strong moral case here,” he told ABC’s Insiders program. “Over a billion people don’t have access to electricity. That means that more 2 billion people today are using wood and dung for their cooking.”

Canavan, meanwhile, is from the hard right of the Coalition and a strong supporter of new coal fired generators in north Queensland, and of digging up more coal mines.

He said last year that climate science was not settled. He said there had been no increase in temperatures for 18 years.

“Accordingly it holds that the policy action we should take in response should be less ambitious, less costly and less binding than what was envisaged at Copenhagen six years ago,” he told the Senate last December.

“Despite what you might hear in the media—and, indeed, what you heard in this chamber only a short while ago—climate change science has become less certain and gives us less reason to worry since the last major climate conference in Copenhagen six years ago,” he told parliament last December.

“Accordingly it holds that the policy action we should take in response should be less ambitious, less costly and less binding than what was envisaged at Copenhagen six years ago.”

Turnbull once said he would not lead a government that did not take climate change seriously.

 

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6 Comments
  1. Chris Fraser 2 years ago

    I’d always thought that if you called an election and reduced your majority from thirty seats to only one, you would want to have more moderate Ministers. No ? Malcom’s judgement is in question yet again.

  2. Farmer Dave 2 years ago

    I agree that putting environment and climate change together in the one Department should make sense, but no rearrangement of the bureaucratic deck chairs will make a difference if the leadership is from irrational people who base their policy on beliefs and ideology rather than evidence. Giles, while your reporting of Frydenberg’s public positions leaves me with great forebodings, I have to ask: was there anyone better? No names come to mind.

    • Chris Fraser 2 years ago

      Yes, maybe Richard Di Natale …. but that would be anathema to this lot.

  3. Steve h 2 years ago

    Should have made it clear with a “ministry for coal” the crime is masking it.

  4. trackdaze 2 years ago

    “Some people use dung & wood for cooking”

    perhaps preferable to using it as a policy.

  5. onesecond 2 years ago

    Oh, Australia, why do you do this to yourself? The Great Barrier Reef is dying, your Mangroves are dying, your farmers can’t farm anymore because of droughts and nobody wants your coal anymore and you think putting climate deniers in charge of the future is a good idea?

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