Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government has appointed a new Climate Change Authority chair while doubling the size of the board that oversees the agency, which advises on the country’s GHG reduction targets.
Former National Farmers Federation head Wendy Craik will take up the role, Environment Minister Greg Hunt announced on Thursday. Craik has also previously worked as Australia’s Productivity Commissioner, CEO of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission and head of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
The move to expand the board of the agency that previous PM Tony Abbott had tried to abolish is a further sign that Australia’s new leader will take a more ambitious stance on climate policy than his predecessor.
Craik replaces Bernie Fraser, a former governor of Australia’s Reserve Bank, who resigned as CCA chair last month.
Fraser had headed the Authority since it was set up by the former Labor government in July 2012 to advise the government on emission reduction targets and carbon budgets, as well as the Renewable Energy Target and the Carbon Farming Initiative.
The Turnbull government also appointed four more CCA board members, which, in contrast to the academic backgrounds of existing appointees, are all from the private sector.
The new board members are:
- Kate Carnell, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO
- John Sharp, deputy chairman of Regional Express airlines and a former transport minister under PM John Howard
- Danny Price, head of Frontier Economics
- Stuart Allinson, CEO of BidEnergy
They will join current board members Professors Ian Chubb, David Karoly, Clive Hamilton and John Quiggin.
There was no indication that a new CEO was named to take over for Acting CEO Shayleen Thompson, who has held that role since former CCA chief executive Anthea Harris left earlier this year.
Former PM Tony Abbott and his coalition government had tried to abolish the CCA, ignoring every recommendation the agency had made since that government took office in 2013.
However, the Authority was granted a reprieve following a deal between the ruling Liberals and MP and mining magnate Clive Palmer, who in turn agreed to support the coalition’s Direct Action programme.
The CCA advised the government to set a target of reducing GHG emissions by 30% below 2000 levels by 2025, and 40-60% by 2030, but the government instead opted for a less ambitious target of a 26-28% cut below 2005 levels by 2030.