New South Wales energy minister Matt Kean has voiced support for former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull one day after removing him as head of the state’s new Net Zero Emissions and Clean Economy Board.
Speaking on RN Breakfast on Wednesday morning, Kean said he had appointed Turnbull as chair of the board because thought he was “eminently qualified to do the job”.
“I believe that he has a great skill set that would have made a huge difference in this very important area of public policy,” he said.
“I still believe he is eminently qualified to do the job but it’s not just about having the right person, it’s also about managing the politics and bringing people along on the journey and Malcolm Turnbull does alienate some sections of the community.”
Last week, following the announcement of the appointment, deputy premier John Barilaro criticised Turnbull for calling for a moratorium on new coal mines in NSW. On Tuesday Barilaro slammed Turnbull’s comments again, and revealed he had been dropped from his new role.
“He pulled my pants down within 48 hours of his appointment on an area that I take seriously,” he told 2GB.
NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay questioned the move, noting that Barilaro had voted in favour of the appointment in Cabinet.
“How on earth did it even come to this?” she wrote on Twitter.
“This should never have been a political appointment and was always going to [be] divisive. A monumental failure of judgment by John Barilaro.”
How on earth did it even come to this? John Barilaro backed Turnbull’s appointment in Cabinet.
This should never have been a political appointment and was always going to divisive.
A monumental failure of judgment by John Barilaro. https://t.co/h97M2BRqng
— Jodi McKay (@JodiMcKayMP) April 6, 2021
Following the news that he had been dropped, Turnbull told Guardian Australia that the coalition was “continuing to be held hostage by the right wing”. He said the right wing media had subjected him to a “concerted and ferocious campaign”, leading to the reversal of his appointment.
An unnamed Liberal MP has reportedly questioned some of their colleagues’ reactions to the appointment.
“These right-wingers weren’t outraged about Brittany Higgins being raped in Parliament House, they weren’t outraged by Michael Johnsen procuring a sex worker to come to Parliament House, but they were outraged by the appointment of someone eminently qualified to help implement NSW government policy,” they told The Australian.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the decision to drop Turnbull was made because the appointment was “proving to be a distraction”.
The state government has not yet announced a new chair for the board. Deputy chair, NSW chief scientist and engineer professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte, is filling the role in the meantime.