Industry mourns Macfarlane's departure

Tony Abbott and Ian Macfarlane in press conference, October 2014

Tony Abbott and Ian Macfarlane in press conference, October 2014

As we woke to a new Monday and Malcolm Turnbull’s seventh day as PM, industry welcomed in a new energy minister along with a raft of other big-ticket changes to the cabinet.

Ian Macfarlane has been stood down from the front bench despite what has been a celebrated two-year term as Minister for Industry and Sciences. His removal apparently came as no surprise.

When asked if PM Turnbull’s decision came as a shock, Mr Macfarlane told ABC radio this morning he was expecting it.

“You get over things in politics, and it wasn’t a total surprise. There were some signs that this was going to be the sort of cabinet that Malcolm wanted,” he said.

“That’s all part of the job.”

Mr Macfarlane was an outspoken supporter of Mr Turnbull prior to last week’s vote, which saw Tony Abbott removed as PM.

“I thought the coalition government had stalled. I didn’t think we were explaining to the electorate why we were doing what we were doing.

“It was time for a change.”

Mr Macfarlane’s term as energy and resources minister received praise from all sides of the political spectrum and industry.

Shadow minister for resources, Gary Gray, even expressed his condolences via Facebook.

Mr Gray wrote: “The mining and petroleum industry owes Ian Macfarlane a great debt. His hard work set Australia up for the renovation of our minerals sector. Thank you Ian.”

Josh Frydenberg, previously assistant Treasurer under Joe Hockey, has been appointed to Minister for Energy, Resources and Northern Australia.

In a statement, Mr Frydenberg said he was humbled to be appointed to the role and paid tribute to the exiting ministers Joe Hockey and ex-Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson.

“I would like to pay tribute to the Hon Ian Macfarlane MP for his outstanding service over many years in this portfolio,” he said.

Tony Wood, program director for energy at the Grattan Institute similarly paid tribute to Mr Macfarlane.

Frydenburg has big shoes to fill

The Austrlian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association’s recently appointed chief executive, Malcolm Roberts joined in the chorus commending Mr Macfarlane for his two years as Minister.

“Since 2001, Mr Macfarlane has been a tireless, passionate champion of the resources sector in general and the gas industry in particular.  He leaves office with an impressive record of achievement. The industry thanks him for his unstinting support,” Mr Roberts said.

“The industry has invested $200 billion to create this opportunity.  The challenge for industry and governments now is to ensure that Australia stays competitive in the increasingly tough global market.  Reforms to lift productivity and cut regulatory costs are essential.

Australian Pipelines and Gas Association (APGA) Chief Executive Cheryl Cartwright also welcomed the appointment of Mr Frydenberg.

“Mr Frydenberg has the economic credentials to take the gas industry, and the gas market, through the next, challenging, phase of development,” Ms Cartwright said.

“Ian Macfarlane has set a benchmark of policy development. He has avoided scoring political points at the expense of policy, worked with all sides of politics and with industry representatives and he has demonstrated a genuine understanding of industry and business challenges,” she said.

“It’s a cliché, but these are large shoes to fill. Over many years both sides of politics have worked closely with industry and Mr Macfarlane has continued that noble policy focus.”

 

Make sure to pick up a copy of Gas Today Summer, out in December, with an exclusive interview with new Energy and Resources Minister, Josh Frydenberg.

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