Alan Pears writes in The Conversation (19.7.16) about Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s reshaped Cabinet, which features a merged ‘super-portfolio’ of Environment and Energy, with Josh Frydenberg as Minister. The move has prompted questions about the workability of having these sometimes ‘conflicting’ portfolio areas being under the same ministerial brief.
‘One of the most notable moves in yesterday’s cabinet reshuffle was Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to merge the environment and energy portfolios, and hand them both to current energy minister Josh Frydenberg.
‘The immediate reaction was mixed. The Australian Petroleum and Exploration Association described it as “the holy grail”, whereas others branded the move a nightmare scenario.
‘Often when two agencies are combined, the culture of one dominates. In this case, it will hinge on the agenda chosen by Frydenberg, Turnbull, and the government as a whole.
‘If the resource-oriented, centralised, growth-focused energy industry culture dominates, we could see emerging industries blocked, the climate response crippled, and environmental destruction.
‘On the other hand, if the various interest groups are forced to engage with the climate issue, and the abuse of market power, fossil fuel subsidies and other longstanding conflicts are worked through, it could be the circuit-breaker that’s so sorely needed.’