Morrison carves up environment and energy, praises Taylor for waving big stick | RenewEconomy

Morrison carves up environment and energy, praises Taylor for waving big stick

Federal environment and energy department abolished in end of year shake up that will see the portfolios separated once again.

Credit: AAP/Lukas Coch

Prime minister Scott Morrison has announced dramatic changes to the federal bureaucracy, with the Department of the Environment and Energy to be abolished, and energy and climate change branches set to be absorbed by the resources department.

Morrison announced the formation of a recombined energy and resources department, creating a new Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, although there was no change in ministerial positions, with the PM voicing his “full confidence” in the embattled Angus Taylor, the minister for energy and emissions reductions.

The environment portfolio will be merged into the agriculture department, with the creation of a new Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

The changes see the environment and energy portfolios once again split up into separate departments.

Parts of the environment department that are responsible for ’emissions reduction’ will remain coupled with the energy portfolio, effectively splitting climate change policy and reporting roles from the environment department, and putting government branches responsible for fossil fuels under the same banner as the branches responsible for climate change and renewable energy policy.

There will no changes to the ministerial arrangements, with Morrison defending the performance of Taylor.

“What Angus has done in the past six months to get the big stick legislation through, to ensure the dodgy late payment fees that are charged by energy companies, they’re all gone,” Morrison said.

“The policy performance of Angus Taylor is not under question.”

However, the changes send a clear signal about how the Morrison government views the respective departments, with the energy portfolio being grouped alongside the resources and industry portfolio.

This brings the portfolios of energy and emissions reduction minister Angus Taylor and resources minister Matt Canavan under a single roof and will see the same department and departmental officials providing advice to the ministers on both coal and gas policies, as well as climate change and renewable energy policies.

Likewise, the environment portfolio has now been paired with the agriculture and water portfolios, which could telegraph an increased focus on the land sector, and will force a greater alignment of environmental and water policy with agriculture policy.

It is currently unknown exactly how the environment and energy portfolios will be split up, and what this may mean for agencies like the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which is supported by the environment department.

ARENA had previously been served by the industry and resources portfolio under the Abbott government, having reported to former minister Ian Macfarlane, who now heads the Queensland Resources Council.

The move is part of a wider shake-up of federal departments, which will see the number of departments reduced from 18, down to 14.

“The new structure will drive greater collaboration on important policy challenges. For example, better integrating the government’s education and skills agenda and ensuring Australian’s living in regional areas can access the infrastructure and services they need,” Morrison said.

“Australians should be able to access simple and reliable services, designed around their needs. Having fewer departments will allow us to bust bureaucratic congestion, improve decision-making and ultimately deliver better services for the Australian people.”

Five departmental secretaries will lose their roles in the reshuffle. However, the secretary of the Department of the Environment and Energy, David Fredericks, who was only just appointed to the position in November, will take on the secretary role at the new Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

Andrew Metcalfe, who previously served as secretary of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, will take on responsibility for the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

The environment and energy portfolios had been combined into a single department by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, following the 2016 election.

Morrison said that the departmental shake-up would occur over the summer break, with the ‘machinery of government’ changes to be implemented before parliament resumes in early 2020.

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  1. Chris Drongers 11 months ago

    Big dilemma in Agriculture and Environment now.
    e.g. there is only enough water in the Darling to do a life saving flood of a red gum forest or to grow one rice crop and save two rice growers from bankruptcy.
    What are the rules for making the decision?

  2. DevMac 11 months ago

    What has the ‘Big Stick’ legislation actually achieved?

    Much more could have actually been achieved by further promoting solar panels on private residences. This has a far bigger percentage impact on power prices for the Aussie consumer. I purchased a solar system in 2015 and as of Q3 2019 there’s $50 to go until the savings outweigh the costs. After that, it’s all cream.

    The documentation of my journey (not updated since 2017):

  3. Phil NSW 11 months ago

    So is it reasonable to consider this is Morrison’s way of sacking bureaucrats he dislikes. Bureaucrats who give advice he does not like. Sounds like Trump, smells like Trump, must be Morrison. More individual freedoms lost on our journey towards a totalitarian state.

    • Hettie 11 months ago

      I note that 3 of the 4 named are women. Misogyny rules.

  4. Ren Stimpy 11 months ago

    I’m surprised Lumpy didn’t merge resources and environment into one department. I guarantee he would’ve had a good think about it.

  5. Ren Stimpy 11 months ago

    Why is Dungus still in consideration for a ministry? His staff fed him forged documents and he fed those forged documents to the climate denial media. Apparently this is all acceptable and hunky dory. Nobody’s been made accountable for this atrocious shite, which includes the pathetic parliamentary denial that the document was from him or his staff. The dope has a driving ambition to be a backbencher, so why not fasttrack that ambition!

    • Ken Dyer 11 months ago

      Seriously though, can anybody believe ANYTHING this muppet says, after lying about Dr Naomi Wolf in his very first speech as a politician?

      Naomi Wolf will rip his balls out and feed them to him before she quits after he slandered her. It will make the forged documents criminal actions look like a walk in the park after she gets through with him.

      Now here is something else to chew on. Go to Wikipedia that contains a list of every Rhodes Scholar, and includes Naomi Wolf. Guess what, Angus Taylor lied about that too, he is not a Rhodes Scholar according to Wikipedia.

      • Ren Stimpy 11 months ago

        The Naomi Wolf thing compared to the FORGERY thing is like Nemo compared to Bruce. He wants us to be distracted by the Naomi Wolf fluff, and away from his department’s FORGERY spree. Don’t be sucked in.

    • Joe 11 months ago

      There was an article in my Sydney Morning Herald newspaper today that named the staffer involved in Taylor’s Document-gate scandal. The staffer has previous form when it comes to ‘numbers’. No surprise to learn that Taylor is keeping the staffer – reward for good performance?

  6. Seriously...? 11 months ago

    At last! Some climate and environment policy and action! They’re gonna shuffle the departments around…

    • JackD 11 months ago

      Deck chairs on the Titanic… more like..

  7. Matt S 11 months ago

    is this an early April Fools joke?
    This is some 1984 stunt Scomo’s pulling?

  8. JackD 11 months ago

    Bye-bye Angus… You wait and see. Mr Liability for Scott No Friends.

  9. Aluap 11 months ago

    I had a dream last night of Taylor waving the big stick, but he was being called Pinocchio and the big stick was growing out of his face above his upper lip. He was standing on his hind legs trying to reach up and over other MPs trying to get his snout into a trough of money.

  10. Steve h 11 months ago

    This is all about ramming stuff through departments with the least scrutiny and resistance

  11. Oliver Nutherwun 11 months ago

    Putting environment and primary industries (agriculture) together clearly presents no potential conflicts of interest at all. Which is why this is how things have been done in Tasmania for years. Where it obviously works so well….

  12. DJR96 11 months ago

    To me this clearly indicates that the current government considers energy an extension of the coal industry. Coal may currently be the largest source of energy for electricity and this government seems intent on keeping it that way, despite the obvious unstoppable transition away from coal. Out of touch much?

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