Many in the energy sector would argue that Martin Ferguson was an exceptional minister and a significant loss from the Resources, Energy and Tourism portfolio. He was certainly a champion of energy market reform and energy efficiency, and saw a strong Australia linked to a strong mining sector. However, many in the renewables sector saw Ferguson as an opponent of change, supported by his continued reference to the need for baseload power and rumours of his opposition to the carbon price in Cabinet. Gary Gray becomes just the third Energy minister in about 17 years and his position on many of the big issues remains to be tested.
In the same transaction, the whole Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency was removed, with climate change functions collected into the already large Department of Innovation, Industry, Science, Technology, Research and Training portfolio (DIISTRT). The energy efficiency function has been split off and moved into the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, which has had industrial energy efficiency for a number of years. This move has been flagged for at least three years and appears to deliver administrative efficiency, removing the arbitrary distinction between industrial and residential/commercial energy efficiency.
Read more in the media release issued by the Prime Minister’s office.