The new leader of Tasmania’s Liberal state government, Peter Gutwein, has announced he will also take on the role of minister for climate change, marking first time the Liberal party in that state has created a climate portfolio.
Gutwein, who took the reins as Premier on Monday following the resignation of Will Hodgman, announced his climate role on Friday while outlining “minimal changes” to the state government’s ministry. He will also retain the role of Treasurer.
Gutwein nailed his colours to the mast on climate in his very first press conference as Premier on Monday, declaring a rapidly changing climate “the new normal” and urging governments to learn from the recent lessons of the mainland bushfires.
“As the lowest net emitter in the country … we have a very positive story to tell,” Gutwein said on Friday.
“We have to accept we now have a more volatile climate … obviously we have challenges that we need to take on.”
The comments come as more and more state Liberal governments around Australia come out in favour of ambitious climate policy, leaving the federal Morrison government increasingly out on its own in its climate-lite stance.
Earlier this week, Victoria’s Liberal opposition leader Michael O’Brien called on the federal Coalition to raise the bar on climate policy, after announcing his own party’s about-face on the need for state emissions reductions.
O’Brien told The Age that state emissions targets were necessary in the absence of a “consistent national policy,” and called on the Morrison government to set national targets for cutting emissions beyond 2030.
Tasmania’s current Liberal government is also openly pro-renewables, and well it should be in a state powered almost entirely by hydro. Guy Barnett, who remains energy minister undern Gutwein, takes every opportunity to talk up his state’s “world-class wind” resource, and his party’s “every intention” of making the most of it, with major wind farms in the works and plans for many more.