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  • Rikki Lambert

Malcolm Turnbull hardly warmed the chair at NSW climate body

Former PM Malcolm Turnbull has been dumped from his new role heading a NSW government climate board, after what he's described as a vendetta against him.

Malcolm Turnbull says the NSW government was bullied into dumping him from his new job as chair of the NSW Net-Zero Emissions and Clean Economy Board.

The former Liberal prime minister had been appointed to the five-year role just last week, ruffling coalition feathers by supporting a moratorium on new coal mines in NSW.

Mr Turnbull blamed his axing on the right-wing media, telling the ABC:

"There has been a pretty ferocious campaign, a vendetta really, in the characteristic way that News Corp operates and its goal was to bully the state government into not appointing me."

"It's just thuggery," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian stressed that while she admired and respected Mr Turnbull, his appointment

"unfortunately for everyone concerned ... was proving to be a distraction".

She dodged a question about whether the decision had been made in a bid to win the looming Upper Hunter by-election, in a seat where the mining industry was a major employer.

"The decision was made and we all move forward," she said.

State Environment Minister Matt Kean said the purpose of the board was to create jobs in low carbon industries while reducing emissions in ways that grow the economy.

"It is important that the focus is on achieving these outcomes, based on facts, technology, science, and economics," he said in a statement on Tuesday.

"The focus should not be on personality," he said.

Mr Turnbull had:

"contributed much to our country ... however, no person's role on the board should distract from achieving results for the NSW people or from the government's work in delivering jobs and opportunities for the people of NSW".
"For this reason, I have decided not to proceed with his appointment as chair."

The NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer will act in the role until a new chair is named.

The announcement comes hours after The Daily Telegraph published a letter Mr Turnbull wrote to the NSW government objecting to the expansion of a coal mine in the Upper Hunter near his property.

Mr Turnbull on Monday said he and wife Lucy had made the submission "as long term landowners in the district and in no other capacity".

He rejected any conflict with his new role saying "The Net Zero Board has no role in mining approvals whatsoever".

Deputy Premier and Nationals Leader John Barilaro was the first person to declare Mr Turnbull had been turfed from the job, telling Sydney radio 2GB ahead of Mr Kean's statement:

"We are not proceeding with the appointment of Malcolm Turnbull as chair.
"You need someone who brings people together and not divides and unfortunately Malcolm has done the opposite.
"Great result for common sense.

He said of Mr Turnbull's recent comments on coal mines:

"He pulled my pants down within 48 hours of his appointment on an area that I take seriously."
"I'm the deputy premier ... and I chose to be the mining minister because I thought for the last 10 years we have not done enough to support the industry which has been the backbone of our economy and the nation."

Last week, Defence Minister Peter Dutton weighed in on the appointment of Mr Turnbull.

"All I can say is that Malcolm was very consistent as prime minister, and that is that he supported coal mining, and he said that on the public record on a number of occasions."

Opposition leader Jodi McKay described the development as "a monumental failure of judgment by John Barilaro". She tweeted:

"How on earth did it even come to this? John Barilaro backed Turnbull's appointment in cabinet.
"This should never have been a political appointment and was always going to be divisive."

-- with AAP


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