Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, unveiled his new Ministry on Monday, announcing key changes to the Environment Portfolio.
Josh Frydenberg will become the new Minister for the Environment and Energy, a newly expanded title which brings energy under the umbrella of the Department of Environment.
Mr Turnbull said the intent of the decision was to align renewable targets, clean energy development, and emission reduction with other environmental policy areas, a concern echoed by Josh Frydenberg.
“As we transition to a lower emissions economy, I’m focused on ensuring Australia has a stable and secure energy supply, capitalising on new energy efficient technologies,” Mr Frydenberg said.
Environmental groups have largely welcomed the move, noting the importance of energy policy in tackling climate change.
“Making the transition to clean energy is the solution, so it makes sense to have a single minister responsible for environment and energy,” said ACF CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.
The Green Building Council of Australia also applauded this new ‘integrated’ approach, noting that the role affords the Minister greater powers for sustainability.
“A fragmented approach hasn’t worked. An integrated approach brings together the ‘big picture’ of meeting climate targets, while investing in clean energy and unlocking the potential of carbon zero economy,” said CEO Romilly Madew.
“Importantly, Minister Frydenberg will have greater power to deliver the priorities under the National Energy Productivity Plan.”
However there was criticism of Josh Frydenberg’s track record on coal, and suggestions that he is ill-suited to the role of Environment and Energy minister.
“For Malcolm Turnbull to appoint a minister who still believes that there is still a strong moral case for coal even during the worst coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef’s history is clear show of contempt for the Australian public,” said Greenpeace senior climate and energy campaigner Nikola Casule.
In Queensland, Josh Frydenberg’s state counterpart called on him to do more to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
He requested an extra $1.6 million in funding over four years for the Great Barrier Reef field management program (FMP) amid concerns it is under-resourced.
“Our funding is contingent on the Commonwealth matching the commitment in line with existing funding agreements, in which the QPWS jointly delivers the field management program across the length and breadth of the reef in an award winning partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority,” Dr Miles said.
Federal Parliament will resume on August 30. Josh Frydenberg’s predecessor as Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, will remain in Cabinet as the Minister for Industry, Innovation, and Science.