Angus Taylor had been granted expanded ministerial responsibilities, and former IPA climate policy director Tim Wilson has been made assistant minister for energy and emissions reduction, in a ministerial shake-up announced by prime minister Scott Morrison on Friday.
Taylor will add the industry portfolio to his existing responsibilities as minister for energy and emissions reduction in a ministerial reshuffle triggered by the resignation of Christian Porter.
Taylor had been acting industry minister since Porter’s resignation and will now assume greater responsibility for the government’s industry support, including the $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy.
That also means Taylor will oversee the Morrison government’s planned Clean Energy Summit in 2022, which will focus on regional cooperation around the production of low emissions materials and supply chains, and which was announced following the meeting Quad leaders last weekend.
Aiding Taylor with the portfolios will be Tim Wilson, who has been appointed assistant minister for industry, energy and emissions reduction and who once led the efforts of the Liberal party-aligned and Gina Riunehart funded think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs, to undermine Australia’s climate policies.
As policy director at the IPA, Wilson was outspoken against measures designed to support action on climate change, including the Gillard government’s carbon price package and even described the Abbott government’s Direct Action policy as an “undesirable solution”.
During Wilson’s tenure at the IPA, the conservative think tank regularly called for the abolition of a number of government authorities, including the Climate Change Authority, the federal Renewable Energy Target and the defunding of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
Wilson – who holds a graduate certificate in energy and carbon management from Murdoch University – has been a member of parliament since 2016. There has long been speculation that he would eventually be promoted into the Morrison ministry.
Wilson has recently sought to position himself as one of a number of vocal “modern” Liberals, who have called on Morrison to adopt a zero net emissions target and to provide increased support for low emissions development.
“a great deal of advocacy and skills to that portfolio as we continue to articulate and bring people together around our plans for emissions reduction on Australia’s energy future, the transition to the new energy economy,” Morrison told a press conference on Friday.
Also receiving a promotion in the ministerial reshuffle is former environment minister Melissa Price, who will take on the science and technology portfolios in addition to her existing duties as the minister for defence industry.
Price was dumped from the environment portfolio following the 2019 federal election after a number of controversies, including offending the former president of Kiribati, Anote Tong, when he was visiting Australia to advocate for stronger climate change action on behalf of Pacific Island states.
Price was also seen as a weak performer in the environment portfolio, being variously described as absent or disinterested in the portfolio and refusing to meet with environment groups attempting to raise issues relevant to her ministerial responsibilities.
Taylor’s own time as energy minister has been plagued with controversies relating to government purchases of water rights, land clearing by companies owned by members of Taylor’s family, allegations over the City of Sydney documents, and over grants awarded to fossil fuel companies who had donated to the Liberal Party.
However, Morrison said he had promoted the two ministers as he thought they had been “strongly performing” ministers.
I’m congratulating both Melissa and Angus. They have been strongly performing. I recently promoted Melissa again to the Cabinet, and she’s been hitting the marks and doing a terrific job, and it’s great to have her in the new roles,” Morrison said.
Correction: an earlier version of this article suggested Tim Wilson personally called for the abolition of the CEFC and ARENA. The article has been amended to identify that the Institute of Public Affairs, during Wilson’s tenure at the think tank, had done so, but not Mr Wilson personally.