Just one week after winning the 2019 federal election, it appears Prime Minister Scott Morrison has unwrapped another fib for the Australian public: Melissa Price, who he said would retain her role as Environment Minister in the case of a Coalition election win, has shuffled over to become Minister for Defence Industry.
Morrison yesterday revealed his new-look cabinet, featuring a whole host of personnel changes. Perhaps the most obvious change-up was Price’s shift from the environment portfolio, which comes after Morrison’s leadership debate assertion that Price would retain her role.
That statement came amid speculation about her fit for the position. Price was absent when Morrison unveiled his party’s platform on climate change, and she was a conspicuous absence on the campaign trail. Her decision to rubber-stamp approvals for the Adani Carmichael coal mine project in the days before Morrison called the election also raised concerns about her commitment to, you know, making sure Australia doesn’t bake itself due to carbon emissions.
Her reported mishandling of the ministry was not an entirely recent phenomenon. In 2018, Labor Senator Pat Dodson accused Price of insulting Anote Tong, the former president of Kiribati. According to Dodson, who was at dinner with Tong when he introduced his guest to Price, the Environment Minister said “I know why you’re here. It is for the cash. For the Pacific it’s always about cash.”
Price denied the claim, but the incident coloured public perception of her suitability for the role. As a tiny nation in the Pacific Ocean, Kiribati is particularly susceptible to rising sea levels. Appearing to diss one of their dignitaries is not necessarily a smooth move.
After all that, Morrison yesterday offered up that Price simply sought a “new challenge” moving forward.
Sussan Ley has replaced Price in the role. Notably, Angus Taylor is now Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, which puts the onus of actually holding Australia to its 2030 emissions targets up to a guy who reportedly wants to facilitate new coal power plants.