Josh Frydenberg will take Greg Hunt’s federal environment portfolio following a frontbench reshuffle announced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Monday.
The move sees Mr Frydenberg give the resources portfolio to Nationals senator Matt Canavan to become minister for the environment and energy.
“I am delighted to see my good friend, Josh Frydenberg, appointed as minister for the environment and energy,” new industry, innovation and science minister Mr Hunt said. “He will be outstanding and is passionate about clean air, clean water, clean land, heritage and Antarctica.”
The news, however, hasn’t received as warm a welcome from the environment sector, upset that there is no stand-alone environment department, and that the portfolio has been given to someone who last year argued the “moral case” for increasing coal exports through the Adani mine.
— GeorgeMonbiot (@GeorgeMonbiot) July 18, 2016
A scathing Greenpeace called the appointment a “huge blow” for the Great Barrier Reef.
“Frydenberg’s views on climate change are an embarrassing relic from a different era,” Greenpeace senior climate and energy campaigner Nikola Casule said.
“Australians have been clear in asking their government to choose the Great Barrier Reef over the coal industry. 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 a clear show of contempt for the Australian public.”
The Clean Energy Council, however, said there was sense in linking energy and environment portfolios.
“Australia has a big challenge and opportunity in transitioning its energy sector to a cleaner, more modern system, and it’s critical that climate policy and energy policy are all pulling in the same direction,” Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said.
“Australia has some of the oldest and highest-polluting electricity generation in the world, and clear and coordinated policy is crucial to attract private investment in clean energy and deliver a reliable and low-cost energy supply.
“This can deliver billions of dollars in investment and tens of thousands of jobs into the future with the right policy settings.”
Mr Thornton said the clean energy industry looked forward to working with Mr Frydenberg.
Another built environment change sees major projects minister Liberal MP Paul Fletcher now to be minister for urban infrastructure, which Mr Turnbull said during a Canberra press conference was “clarifying his current role”.
“One of his key priorities is the Western Sydney Airport,” he said. “Paul will be focusing on delivery of these big projects ensuring that they are delivered – that by 2019, Australians see we are making real progress on delivering those important projects we’ve described.”
The new focus was welcomed by the Property Council of Australia.
“We welcome Minister Paul Fletcher’s new focus on urban infrastructure which fits well alongside the Prime Minister’s cities agenda led by Assistant Minister, Angus Taylor,” PCA chief executive Ken Morrison said.
“The bulk of Australia’s population growth will occur in our national cities and this is a key challenge for our national government.”