Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been dumped from a NSW government clean energy board a week after being named as its chair.
The appointment sparked a backlash within segments of the state’s Coalition government as it faces a by-election in a NSW coal region.
Mr Turnbull was appointed to the NSW Net Zero Emissions and Clean Economy Board last week by NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean, who said it was a “privilege” to have the former Prime Minister involved in the state’s emissions reduction plans.
But today the outspoken state energy minister said Mr Turnbull’s appointment would not proceed over concerns it would distract from the board’s goals.
“The purpose of the Net Zero Emissions and Clean Economy Board is to create jobs in low carbon industries and see the State reduce its emissions in ways that grow the economy,” Mr Kean said in a statement Tuesday morning.
“It is important that the focus is on achieving these outcomes, based on facts, technology, science, and economics.
“The focus should not be on personality.”
Mr Turnbull’s appointment sparked a backbench revolt and a NSW Cabinet feud as the state government faces a critical by-election in the Upper Hunter.
Mr Turnbull lost the Prime Ministership in part because of friction caused when he attempted to implement a National Energy Guarantee that would target emissions reduction and a transition to renewable energy. Since losing Office his advocacy for emissions reduction has continued, including calling for a freeze on new coal mines last week.
Under political pressure, Matt Kean reportedly asked Mr Turnbull to stop talking down coal in his position as chair of the NSW Net Zero Emissions and Clean Economy Board.
Today, Mr Kean suggested the appointment of Mr Turnbull had created too big a distraction.
“Malcolm Turnbull AC has contributed much to our country and I know will contribute more into the future.
“However, no person’s role on the Board should distract from achieving results for the NSW people or from the Government’s work in delivering jobs and opportunities for the people of NSW.
“For this reason, I have decided not to proceed with his appointment as chair.
Mr Kean said a new chair would be appointed in “due course” and until then the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte will act in the role.