NSW energy minister Matt Kean has said that he had lost the support of his NSW coalition colleagues for the appointment of Turnbull to chair the Net Zero Emissions and Clean Economy Board and was therefore forced to back out of making the appointment.
Speaking to ABC Radio National on Wednesday, Kean said that he needed to ensure that whoever led the zero emissions advisory board would have widespread support across the community.
“What became apparent in the last week is that some sections of the community that we needed to bring on this journey were alienated by this decision,” Kean told ABC Radio National.
“I realised that I’d lost the support of my colleagues in keeping Malcolm as the appointed head of the net zero emissions board, and in order to keep the team together, I had to make a very tough decision about someone that I think the world of and I respect greatly.”
Without specifying who had raised the concerns, Kean said that Turnbull “alienated” some members of the community and that it would not be possible to maintain support for the NSW government’s zero emissions plans with Turnbull as chair of the advisory board.
“Malcolm Turnbull does alienate some sections of the community. I don’t agree with that view. But in order to move forward, in order to keep reducing our emissions in the way we have in New South Wales, I need to bring the whole community along this journey,” Kean said.
One group that had clearly expressed opposition to Turnbull’s appointment, and one that Turnbull himself credited for his removal as chair of the advisory board, was the Murdoch press.
Turnbull described Murdoch papers, including the Daily Telegraph and The Australian, as running an ongoing vendetta against the former prime minister.
Turnbull has previously joined forces with former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd to issue a call for a royal commission into the lack of media diversity in Australia – that is widely understood as an effort to challenge the market dominance and influence that News Limited owned news outlets have in some parts of Australia.
However, Kean suggested that it was Turnbull’s call for a moratorium on planning approvals for new coal mines in New South Wales that triggered the decision to rescind Turnbull’s appointment.
Somewhat perplexingly, Kean suggested that the future of coal mines in New South Wales were “outside the remit” of the Net Zero Emissions and Clean Economy Board.
“Matters about Malcolm Turnbull speaking on coal mines and the like were outside the remit of the net zero emissions board. They are matters for the planning minister,” Kean added.
“I’m very comfortable with Malcolm Turnbull making contributions as a private citizen, but the role of the net zero board was to help our industry modernise and prepare for the future.”
The decision to rescind Turnbull’s appointment came just days after NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro attended a rugby league event in Newcastle sponsored by the NSW Minerals Council – with Barilaro attending the event with federal Labor pro-coal advocate Joel Fitzgibbon and NSW One Nation leader Mark Latham.
“I had appointed Malcolm Turnbull because I thought he was the right person with the right qualifications to help move forward, to help industry modernise and prepare for the future. But it was clear from the last week’s events that a number of my colleagues, a number of members of the community didn’t share that view. And in order to move forward, I needed to keep that consensus together,” Kean added.