It’s often said that it’s not so much what you know, as who you know. And in the case of new Australian Renewable Energy Agency chair Justin Punch, it may be a case of both.
The Melbourne Age CBD column, a gossipy insider’s report of what’s going on and who’s who in the business and political world, says that Punch and federal energy minister Angus Taylor are well acquainted.
Not only did CBD claim that Punch made a $108.55 donation to Taylor’s efforts in the Pollie’s Pedal – the fund-raising cycling event championed by former prime minister Tony Abbott – but CBD says the two men are also old skiing buddies.
No more details were provided, but RenewEconomy did find through a Google search that Taylor, his barrister wife Louise Clegg and Punch’s partner, company director Patty Akopiantz, appear to have competed in some races on the same day at the up-market Vail ski resort in Colorado, way back in January, 2012. We can’t tell you who won although Akopiantz’s times looked pretty good.
Punch also happens to be the son of a former National Party deputy premier of NSW, Leon Punch, so it is not surprising he is well connected in political circles. And both the Punch and Taylor families have strong connections to the King’s School in Sydney.
Punch also had a prominent role in business as a partner in investment firm Archer Capital, although to be clear he has recently focused his work on the environment and climate and the indigenous support trust he chairs.
CBD said it asked Taylor’s office for a comment on the social link between the two, to which Taylor’s spokesman presumably dismissed any suggestion of a job for the boys, and replied:
“In terms of the substance of your question, however, have a look at Mr Punch’s CV which I have attached & the public commentary today – even from the likes of RenewEconomy who reported: ‘Industry insiders welcomed his appointment, saying he understood the climate and clean energy space.'” (The italics are ours).
But if those who know him well are correct, and Punch is a good man for the job – and several have told us that he does, indeed, understand the climate and energy space well – then there is probably no one better placed to get in Taylor’s ear and enlighten the minister on the need to continue the good work of ARENA, and to fund it well. And even to design a coherent energy and climate policy. Lots to talk about on the chair lift.