Who’s new in the zoo: meet the new Federal Ministers promising a shake up on climate action in Australia

02.06.22 By
This article is more than 2 years old

Well, Australia, we now have a new Federal Government, which means a changing of the guard for those tasked with managing Australia’s climate performance. 

As always, the Climate Council will be keeping a close eye on how the Federal Government responds to the climate crisis, and be working to ensure all our cabinet ministers keep climate change at the top of their political agenda

Addressing the Labor party room, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he hoped to go to the next federal election in 2025 able to tell voters that he had ‘ended the climate wars’.

“I want the economic transformation that is dealing with clean energy and creating those high-value jobs powered by cheaper, cleaner, energy will do, to be part of the great Australian story as well,” Albanese said.

So, who are our new Federal Ministers in charge of delivering on these big promises?

Let’s take a look…

Chris Bowen – Minister for Climate Change and Energy

Member for McMahon, NSW

Before moving into federal politics, Chris Bowen served as Mayor of Fairfield in Western Sydney in 1998 and 1999.

Mr Bowen entered the Federal Parliament in 2004 and has held a wide range of portfolios including Treasurer, Minister for Human Services, Minister for Immigration, and Minister for Small Business. Bowen was a senior member of the Shadow Cabinet from 2013 to 2022.

This marks the first time since 2013 that Australia will have a ‘minister for climate change’ at the federal level.

“The world’s climate emergency is Australia’s jobs opportunity. ” –

Chris Bowen, 2022 

Tanya Plibersek – Minister for the Environment and Water 

Member for Sydney, NSW

Elected as the MP for Sydney in 1998, Tanya Plibersek has held a range of portfolios during her time in politics and served as a Cabinet Minister in both the Rudd and Gillard Governments. She has held the portfolios of Housing, the Status of Women, Human Services and Social Inclusion, and Health, and served as the Shadow Minister for Education and Shadow Minister for Women.

Ms Plibersek was Deputy Leader of the Labor Party and Deputy Leader of the Opposition from 2013 to 2019. 

As one of the most well-regarded members of the Cabinet, we look forward to seeing what she brings to this portfolio. 

“Australia is lucky to be home to the most beautiful natural environments in the world, which we need to protect and preserve for future generations. Let’s get to work.” –

Tanya Pliberseck, 2022

Jennifer (Jenny) McAllister – Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy

Senator for NSW

Jenny McAllister joined the Labor Party in Queensland in 1992 and has had a long history of advocating for environmental issues. 

In 2003, Ms McAllister founded the Labor Environment Activist Network and served as one of its inaugural convenors until 2007. She previously worked in the private sector as an environmental and policy consultant. Prior to that, she held senior roles in the NSW public sector, developing climate change and environmental policy. She also served as an environment advisor in the NSW state government.

Appointing an Assistant Minister for Climate Change this term indicates the government is putting resources into addressing the climate challenge. But the true test will be whether they can deliver meaningful emissions reductions this decade. 

“Government must lead, engage with robust science, and set evidence-based targets. Businesses and communities are already responding. If we are sincere about our obligations to future generations, it’s time to act. Australia should lead the world in renewable energy technology, which holds so much opportunity for future-focused jobs.” –

Jenny McAllister 2022

Madeleine King – Minister for Resources, Minister for Northern Australia

Member for Brand, WA

The West Australian MP was first elected in 2016 and has been in the shadow ministry since 2018. She has served as the Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs, Trade and Resources. 

“The resources sector is vitally important for Australia’s economic future, and I am excited about the rich endowment of rare earths and critical minerals alongside our traditional minerals industries.”

Madeleine King, 2022

Pat Conroy – Minister for Defence Industry & Minister for International Development and the Pacific

Member for Shortland, NSW

Pat Conroy has represented the Lake Macquarie region in Federal Parliament since 2013. Mr Conroy has served as Shadow Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Shadow Assistant Minister for Infrastructure, Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Shadow Minister Assisting for Climate Change, and Shadow Minister Assisting for Defence.

“[Climate change is] the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific.” –

Pat Conroy, 2022

Murray Watt – Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Minister for Emergency Management

Senator for QLD

Murray Watt spent 20 years as a lawyer, a state MP and Chief of Staff to former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh. He was elected as a Senator for Queensland in 2016. Mr Watt has served as the Shadow Minister for Northern Australia, Disaster and Emergency Management and Queensland Resources. 

In his role as Shadow Minister for Emergency Management, Mr Watt advocated for increased funding to protect communities from extreme weather and recommended ways in which government agencies tasked with responding to emergencies could be more effective.

“We know that we’re going to be facing more natural disasters in the future. And, in fact, the scientists tell us they’re probably going to be more intense than what we’re seeing at the moment.” 

Murray Watt, 2022

Australians who care deeply about climate change have spoken loud and clear this election, with a clear call for the incoming Labor Government to step up to the biggest challenge and opportunity that our country faces. 

Currently, we’re on a course to climate catastrophe. That requires a sharp correction. Australians deserve a federal government that recognises the scale of the challenge before us, and the pace of action that’s required. This new Ministry can not afford to waste a single day. 

Australians have been very clear on what they want: decisive climate action this decade. The Climate Council is with you every step of the way, holding this new Labor Government accountable for delivering climate action now.

The Climate Council is calling on the incoming Federal Government to: 

1. Turn Australia into a climate leader

2. Prepare Australia for worsening extreme weather

3. Improve existing energy policies

4. End government support for fossil fuel expansion

5. Strengthen transparency and accountability