Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

An Energy Wolf in Greens’ Clothing?

By Ian Lowe

Is the creation of a single government portfolio encompassing energy and the environment a fatal conflict of interest?

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The shuffling of ministerial responsibilities after the Australian election has produced some very interesting allocations. Greg Hunt, after an uncomfortable time as Environment Minister charged with promoting the obviously inadequate climate change response of the Abbott and Turnbull governments, has been moved sideways to become Minister of Industry, Innovation and Science.

Ironically, one of his first public actions was to offer extra funds to CSIRO for climate science, restoring a small part of the cuts to that area announced by CSIRO head Larry Marshall while Hunt was Environment Minister. Hunt has said that the $37 million offered over 10 years will fund 15 climate science jobs – a small fraction of those lost in the earlier round of cuts. At the time, Hunt’s silence was deafening and it appeared the government tacitly supported the attack on climate science. Much of the expertise he now wants to encourage has already left the organisation, and critics see the funding offer as a politically motivated gesture to deflect concern about Australia’s still-increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

In a novel combination, Josh Frydenberg has been made Minister for the Environment and Energy. Some observers have praised the combining of the portfolios, saying that the pattern of energy supply and use is the critical factor driving the most important environmental...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.