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Ex-Liberal minister Matt Kean to lead Climate Change Authority

Albanese on Dutton and nuclear policy

Source: ABC News

Former Liberal minister Matt Kean has been named as a surprise appointment to head the Albanese government’s Climate Change Authority.

Kean, who quit NSW politics just last week, will lead the independent statutory body that advises the Commonwealth on climate change policy, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced on Monday.

Often outspoken on climate change policy within the NSW Liberal Party, Kean takes over from Grant King, who resigned after more than three years in the role.

Albanese said Kean was “uniquely qualified” for the job.

“I worked very closely with Mr Kean when we introduced our coal and gas and our energy price relief plan in partnership with the NSW state government and other state governments as well,” he said in Canberra on Monday.

“Mr Kean understands the opportunity that the transition to clean energy represents for our nation.”

Federal Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce blasted Kean’s appointment on Monday, labelling the former NSW treasurer and energy and environment minister “treacherous”.

“He’s found his authentic home, hasn’t he? No doubt he’ll go out there to further cripple manufacturing in Australia and cripple power prices for pensioners who can’t afford it,” Joyce told Sky News Australia.

Kean had previously said he would join the private sector. On Monday, he said he wanted to continue his public service.

“The Climate Change Authority has an important role to play in providing independent advice to the government of the day based on facts, science, evidence, engineering and economics,” he said.

“If we get the transition right, we can not only put downward pressure on electricity bills for families and businesses right across the country but protect our environment and make our economy even stronger.”

His appointment came as the debate around the Coalition’s nuclear plan became more heated. Albanese said on Monday that the previous government had 22 energy policies and “none of them landed”.

“But during that whole period, they continued to say that coal-fired power stations would stay open,” he said.

“That is why it is not a serious plan. A plan that has always been on the fringes of the serious energy debate in this country.

“[Opposition Leader Peter] Dutton is on the fringe of Australian politics. He is nowhere near the centre. He is out there on the hard right of Australian politics, being driven by ideology, not common sense.”

It followed Dutton unleashing on Albanese as a “fraud” and a “child in a man’s body” in a personal swipe in a speech to the Liberal Party’s federal council on Saturday.

“He’s a man with a mind still captured in his university years; he’s a child in a man’s body,” he said.

“We need a mature conversation in this country,” he added, referring to memes posted on social media by senior Labor MPs since he outlined his nuclear plan.

Describing Albanese as “a political appeaser, not a leader of conviction”, Dutton said the PM “places a higher value on political survival than statesmanship”.’

That, in turn, brought out former PM Paul Keating, who lashed the Coalition’s nuclear ambitions, labelling them climate change denialism in disguise.

Keating called Dutton a “peddler of danger” in a lengthy statement on Sunday.

“Dutton’s policy, of its essence, is that human-induced climate change is a fraudulent concept propagated by environmentalists and left-leaning fellow travellers – a concept he believes should be deplored and opposed,” Keating wrote.

“A denialist now seeking to camouflage his long-held denialism in an industrial fantasy – resort to the most dangerous and expensive energy source on the face of the Earth – nuclear power.

“By his blatant opposition to renewables, Dutton calls into question and deprecates all the government has done to provide Australian business with a reliable and dependable framework for investment in renewables.”

On Monday, Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen back up Albanese.

“Renewables are not only the cheapest form of energy, they are the most popular. And the fact is Mr Dutton’s nuclear policy, as much as it is a policy – I use the term lightly because it is a scam with scant details – it is an anti-renewables policy. That is what is driving it,” he said.

“If Mr Dutton is really pleased and proud of this, where are the other costs? Where are the gigawatts [that will be generated]?”

Kean, meanwhile, said he had considered nuclear power for NSW while in state cabinet.

“The advice that I received at the time which was most compelling was from the chief scientist of NSW, Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte, and he is one of the few people in the country who has run a nuclear program.

“His advice to me was [that] to bring nuclear into the system it would take far too long and would be far too expensive for NSW.

“I did not want to bankrupt the state and I did not want to put those huge costs on to families. That is why we produced the electricity infrastructure roadmap, which set the transition to renewables, backed by … storage because we know that [was] the cheapest option for NSW and it can be rolled out first and deliver the future we [deserve].”

Kean begins his new role in August.

-with AAP

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