Two cabinet ministers for climate change

The received wisdom seems to be that Rudd has hived off climate change from Peter Garrett’s responsibilities and given it to Penny Wong. This is not correct. In fact they will both work on climate change. Rudd explained it this way:

“Penny will have responsibility for our international negotiations on Kyoto and Kyoto plus, she will have responsibility for the negotiations of our domestic emissions trading regime,” he said.

“She will also have responsibility for the harmonisation of the existing state-based mandatory renewable energy targets and regimes with an integrated national mandatory target regime.”

Mr Rudd said Mr Garrett, on top of the environment portfolio, would be responsible for delivering key climate-change programs within Australia.

“Solar programs, water-efficiency programs and general energy efficiency programs as well.”

Both will go to Bali with Rudd.

With two ministers in Cabinet, the area has been significantly upgraded.

Rudd has made clear that water will include water for the cities as well, and extend to WA whereas the previous government’s focus was mainly on the Murray-Darling.

During the election period I heard Garrett debate Brandis on policy for the arts. Garrett acquitted himself very well I thought.

Garrett and Wong will both be busy, methinks.

Posted in environment
35 comments on “Two cabinet ministers for climate change
  1. […] is being stripped of some of his powers, where this is in fact not the case. You can read more HERE. Thanks to […]

  2. hc says:

    No it is clearly a vote of confidence in Garrett.

    Labor has one Minister for employment and IR who doubles as education minister and deputy PM.

    But 2 people for climate change.

    This decision is clearly unrelated to the fact that Garrett indicated during the campaign that the Labor policy was equivalent to the Liberal Party – viz after 2012 they will only sign a cooperative global agreement if Chinma and India do.

    Where is Cyclops?

  3. Mercurius says:

    I’d encourage people to consider Rudd’s appointments in the light of criticisms that Rudd is all spin and no substance.

    Certainly Rudd is a slick media performer (his leaden victory speech notwithstanding), which is what invites the criticism of spin.

    However, I would have thought that if there was *nothing* behind the spin, then Rudd would resort to appointing Ministers based on their media performance alone. If this were the case, then Garrett would be Minister for Changing the Loo Rolls by now. He has been ghastly as a media performer – gaffe-prone, vague and unconvincing.

    Yet, he’s still there as Environment Minister, with an extra pair of hands to help.

    Perhaps he’s been delivering performance beyond the spin – how else might he have maintained his position? Giving away free Oils CDs? And we know that Penny Wong is a person of substance too. Plus a lot of the deadwood has been demoted (although I still think Bob McMullen has a fine intellect to contribute).

    All in all, I think Rudd may be giving Garrett another chance to perform, with the implied warning that the whole portfolio will go to Penny Wong if he fails to cut the mustard.

    BTW, is anyone else astonished at the speed and felicity with which Dennis Shanahan switched from kissing one Prime Ministerial arse to another?

    If this were the 1500s, why Dennis, clad in tights and ruffles, would be standing just *outside* the door of the King’s chamber, complimenting the Monarch on his choice of rising damp and slime-mould to adorn the walls.

  4. Guy says:

    Shanahan’s overnight conversion is certainly astonishing.

  5. bahnischba says:

    This decision is clearly unrelated to the fact that Garrett indicated during the campaign that the Labor policy was equivalent to the Liberal Party – viz after 2012 they will only sign a cooperative global agreement if Chinma and India do.

    Hc I remind you again what Guy Pearse said on this.

    Yesterday John Howard declared Peter Garrett’s clarification of the Labor position on developing country involvement in a post-2012 global climate change deal the most spectacular capitulation of the campaign so far.

    Howard claims that Labor has come around to his position on climate change but this is nothing more than wishful thinking.

    The real problem has been lazy reporters assuming that terms like ‘bringing developing countries on board’ or making sure they have ‘emission constraints’, ‘parallel obligations’, ‘appropriate commitments’ all mean the exactly same thing as the ‘national emission reduction targets’ to which developed countries were bound in Kyoto and are likely to be bound in future.

    The terms are not interchangeable and both sides know it.

    You’ve joined the group of “lazy reporters”.

  6. Craig Mc says:

    Confucius say “man with two watches never knows what time it is”. Although he would have had to invent the wrist watch 2,500 years ago to have been able to say that.

  7. Peterc says:

    My take on the environment portfolio split is that Wong has got the elephants (climate change, negotiations & water), while Garrett has got the rats and mice (Solar programs, water-efficiency programs and general energy efficiency programs). This may be a good move as I think Wong would be a better negotiator, based on Garrett’s ill-considered speculations during the campaign about post Kyoto future negotiations. On paper is seems the Wong “reports to” Garrett, but this cannot really be the case. This is a low risk approach. And two heads are better than one, as long as they don’t just spend their time butting them together.

    Regarding Shanahan, he is actually only the court jester with a very brown nose. I don’t have time or the inclination to read his sycophantic opinions.

  8. gandhi says:

    Slightly off topic, there is some fascinating post-election discussion going on at Greensblog.

  9. bahnischba says:

    I don’t see the division of duty as a problem. Wong has the international negotiations and the carbon trading system, which will need to potentially interface with the international system. Garrett has the nuts and bolts.

    Both will be concerned about policy, but that is a whole-of-government thing. Both will be in Cabinet and answer directly to Rudd.

    There are possibly even greater interface issues on water. Are they going to give a tick to the Traveston Dam? The alternative, almost certainly, would be to build another desalination plant, the power for which should by carbon neutral.

    Albernese who previously had water now has infrastructure. He is relevant here also.

    Rudd will expect them to work cooperatively and Garrett and Wong do seem to be cooperative types.

    If anything, I’d see Garrett as carrying the greater work load, given his other responsibilities.

  10. Kevin Rennie says:

    Penny Wong’s poker face is a key asset in any negotiator. For a glimpse into this side of her, watch “The Poll That Counts No.2: Howard Made History” at It’s the tallyroom view of Maxine rising and Howard sinking.
    For other videos from my election day series visit ‘labor View from Broome’

  11. FDB says:

    I kept the spelling mistake though, or the link wouldna worked. 😉

    Let it never be said I’m overly pedantic.

  12. Peterc says:

    As an aside, I wonder if Wong will have the Greenhouse mafia on her negotiating team for Bali? They would have been primed and prepared in the vain expectatition that Howard would win. Are there capable replacements for them, or do we see chaos and conflict within the Australian delegation? I am hoping the former is the case.

  13. bahnischba says:

    You’d think Guy Pearse will let them know who’s who and what’s what. I wonder what they’ll do with ABARE!

  14. philiptravers says:

    Hate to be racist,but, Wong is part Chinese and dear old China isnt producing Confucius Says out of the smokestacks of coal burning plants,and the other matter of nuke sales is dominated by Queensland and South Australia,with rarely a nuke mining thing in N.S.W.,and Northern Territory still uncertain,and,will Garrett cut the mustard on GMO-Nano canola or Foodstuffs!?Probably not,it would be almost like criticising Victorian and N.S.W. Premiers!?Thus proving already they,the ALP, have very shoddy environmental status!?

  15. Tim Hollo says:

    Indeed, Brian, I think what they do with ABARE is one of the most telling choices they face.

    Peterc, I believe the make-up of the government delegation to Bali was settled a long time ago. That’s probably the biggest problem for the Wong team at Bali. She’ll have to put her foot down on the coal lobbyists and other greenhouse mafia who they old mob locked in while they still could.

  16. Paul Burns says:

    Maybe Rudd could say to the Greenhouse mafia, Look fellas, you don’t act in Australia’s best interests so you’re just not going.And send people from Greenpeace, the Widerness Society etc. instead?
    But I suppose thasts not practical.

  17. banana says:

    philiptravers, if you hate to do something then why do it?

  18. CK says:

    “BTW, is anyone else astonished at the speed and felicity with which Dennis Shanahan switched from kissing one Prime Ministerial arse to another?”

    Not at all Mercurius.

    As somebody mentioned on his so-called blog, Dennis didn’t miss a beat.

    It’s Teh Power, stoopids, and he is nothing more than a News-class call-guy.

  19. Birdie says:

    yeah, if the saintly Matt Price had lived he would now be telling mock-affectionate tales about Rudd & Gillard while putting the boot big time into Nelson & Bishop.

    C’est la vie. N’est pas?

    The more things change, the more they stay they same, eh wot?

  20. CK says:

    Not sure whether my earlier comment got caught in the spaminator, but Birdie, that comment is way out of the ball-park.

    Matt Price was a fabulously entertaining sketch-writer, called it as he saw it, and was a decent person to boot.

    Journalism is all the sadder for his passing, and I’d thank you to keep your free kicks at the dead to yourself.

  21. mark (not b) says:

    Philiptravers, we all sincerely hope that Tony Burke, Ms Wong and the Ostrich stand up to the states on the GMO-Nano Canola impending disaster.
    The current moratorium is Australia-wide and Rudd promised in late October(?) that there would be no change to the moratorium status without a “whole of Australia” dialogue and further research.
    It’s off-topic, I know, but the role of the Howard appointed CSIRO Chief Scienist in this is passing curious and also the motivation of Vic and NSW to push this proposal forward so soon after the election.

  22. Paul Burns says:

    Re Vic and NSW GM food kerfuffle.
    Its not doing the ALP any good. People on the far left and some environmentalists I know are holding it up as a very good example of why the ALP cannot be trusted federally.
    Its hard to explain that the history of Labor in these states is quite a separate thing to thast of Federal Labor.I can’t comment on Victoria because my knowledge of the ALP in detail in that state doesn’t go far beyond the immediate afterrmath of the Great Split. It is typical of the troglodyte Right in NSW. Sometimes the only difference between these lot and the thugs of the Lang era is they’re better at hiding it.

  23. Zebedee says:

    We need Labor to get this right since the alternative is the Greens. The Greens are a real worry for many reasons.

    It is worth considering exactly what the overriding guiding principles for the Greens might be. Before supporting we should test whether the stated Greens’ principles stack up with their policies.

    After looking its hard to avoid a sense that there is an undeclared guiding principle. This seems to fill the gap:

    “Subversion of the dominant paradigm without regard for those who will be hurt by that subversion.”

    In comments at we see alignment of the principle with one of their founding mantra’s. This mantra would allow the reckless undeclared principle to filter into their policies.

    A principle whose genesis was at some DSTH community bong session is not what we should rush headlong into adopting with unquestioning trust. The drug promotion in Greensblog comments may be supportable, but generally drug use isn’t expected to result in reliable cognition.

    Blind faith in leaders is highly irresponsible behaviour on the part of the rank and file and not something to encouraged or applauded as occurs with the Greens.

    Being true to principles is all very well, if those principles can be relied on to promote the greater good. In the case of the Greens there are serious questions.

    Is there something self indulgent and self righteous about the Greens, when what we need is mature selfless consideration of the issues?

  24. clarencegirl says:

    “Hate to be racist,but, Wong is part Chinese and dear old China isnt producing Confucius Says out of the smokestacks of coal burning plants,”
    Penny Wong is Australian. This quoted remark is just as silly as saying that Kevin Rudd or Malcolm Turnbull are part British and Britain has a nuclear power industry.
    Nothing to do with the price of eggs at all!

  25. bahnischba says:

    Thanks, clarencegirl (and others). I think that one is put to bed now.

    Originally I thought of deleting the comment, but thought it could stay as people would react pretty much as they have.

  26. bahnischba says:

    On the GM issue, there is a post at Quiggin’s with the usual bun fight in the comments thread. I think there are many angles to the issue and it’s not at all straightforward. I wouldn’t frame it in terms of ‘green’ or ‘anti-green’.

    Garrett may soon have to concern himself with a proposal to mine shale oil at Proserpine where the present Whitsunday Coast Airport will transform into an open mining pit. The project could be worth $14 billion and bring 16,000 more people to the area.

    The mining lease is owned by the Ziff Brothers of New York, who no doubt picked it up for a song when the Gladstone project went belly up. They’d want to be paid handsomely to go away, I’m sure.

  27. bahnischba says:

    According to my working contact on Peter Garrett’s staff, they reckon the carve-up of the ministries is the best possible solution for the big bald one with the heart of gold.

    He keeps the local environmental stuff, while Penny Wong does the legals, which she is richly equipped to do. She gets big ticks for being a) extremely clever, b) completely poised and focused, c) openly gay and d) of Chinese-Malaysian and Australian parentage.

    David Tiley gives us the good oil at Barista.

  28. Kate Carroll says:

    So Rudd has chosen his cabinet. And while us greenies will be shining our (energy efficient) spotlights on the new Minister for Climate Change and Water, Penny Wong, and Environment Minister Peter Garrett, it will be up to the whole cabinet to work together to address the most pressing issue of our time.

    Treasurer Wayne Swan was all over it last week, recognising the sweeping economic impacts of climate change and promising to be more involved in the issue than his predecessor. “One of the greatest failures of the previous government was its incomprehension that climate change is an economic challenge as much as an environmental challenge,” he said.

    I couldn’t agree more Mr Swan but there’s also work ahead for the whole cabinet. From Tony Burke in Agriculture, Fisheries and Foresty to Kim Carr in Innovation, Industry, Science and Research. And from Anthony Albanese in Infrastructure and Regional Development to Bob Debus in Home Affairs.

    If we are to save our planet from dangerous climate change, the new government must, in its first term, stop emissions increasing and ready us for a rapid decline in pollution from then on. This means not only preventing new polluting coal plants being built, but also starting to replace the oldest and dirtiest with renewables and energy efficiency. The challenge is sweeping and the stakes are high. But if, as Rudd assures us, we truly have a new cabinet handpicked on talent alone, it is possible.

    You can read more on this at:

  29. […] WorldChanging takes a look at what our new PM Kevin Rudd has promised on environmental issues, while Larvatus Prodeo looks at how Rudd has given us Two Cabinet Ministers for Climate Change. […]

  30. derrida derider says:

    The Kyoto negotiations and the fact they held the policy line so long showed that, whatever the ultimate stupidity of their position, the Greenhouse mafia have excellent professional lobbyists and negotiators amongst them. I’d keep those people but tell them to drop their coal industry mates.

    And I reckon Kevin Rennie’s dead right – Garrett hasn’t lost the negotiating job because of his election faux pas but because he’s a poor negotiator. You really need someone skilled in maneouvring (eg ex-ALP factional apparatchik) in that job.

  31. Peter Wood says:

    It seems that Australian climate negotiators are still up to the same dirty tricks and are opposing the strong targets for developed countries that are supported by the EU by 2020:

    Rudd’s position on this will be a real test of whether he is serious about climate change.

  32. Peter Wood says:

    It looks like Australia might be supporting strong emissions reductions after all:


  33. Maree says:

    Sometime soon the penny (no pun intended!) will drop that the Environment and Climate Change are two different things – protecting and preserving the environment will not – at least in the short term – help manage the impact of climate change which is already upon us. I applaud the PM in making this distinction and appointing ministers to these two related though separate areas of administration.

  34. PeterTB says:

    “She gets big ticks for being a) extremely clever, b) completely poised and focused, c) openly gay and d) of Chinese-Malaysian and Australian parentage.”

    Mark, I can see that a) and b) are relevant. But what have c) and d) go to do with the price of fish?

    “recognising the sweeping economic impacts of climate change “

    Yes Kate. Radical reduction of CO2 is going to cost you and I and working families big bucks. Not much said about this before the election though. And all a complete waste of effort if China and India do not also reduce their emmissions – which can’t and won’t happen.

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