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Tanya Plibersek breaks silence on ‘demotion’ to environmental portfolio by Anthony Albanese

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Tanya Plibersek has admitted she was “surprised” to be saddled with the Ministry of the Environment instead of her expected teaching position.

The former Labor deputy leader has been touted as a leadership rival to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese since he took over the party in 2019.

The environment and water portfolio was seen as a downgrade after serving as shadow minister of education for six years until the May 21 elections.

Former deputy Labor leader Tania Plibersek said her appointment as environment minister, widely regarded as a downgrade, was a surprise, but continued to insist she is delighted with the job

That ward went to Jason Clare, who was seen as rewarded for a strong election campaign in which Ms Plibersek was not prominent.

Ms Plibersek argued for the importance of her new job in one of her first interviews since she was assigned the portfolio. the Australian reported.

“We saw in the last election that the environment is a huge issue for many Australian voters and (we need to) make sure we address the big outstanding issues, the things that have gotten worse, not better over the last decade,” she said. said.

Ms Plibersek admitted she did not expect to be moved to the area, which was covered in opposition by Terri Butler, who lost her Brisbane seat to the Greens.

Ms Plibersek, who has been seen shaking hands here with Australian Governor-General David Hurley after being sworn in as Environment Minister, has outlined a range of priorities in a major interview

Ms Plibersek, who has been seen shaking hands here with Australian Governor-General David Hurley after being sworn in as Environment Minister, has outlined a range of priorities in a major interview

Environmental issues proved to be a strong winner of the vote in the election: six ‘blue’ independents previously claimed blue-ribboned Liberal seats, and the Greens did well in both lower and upper houses.

Those successful campaigns had a strong focus on climate change.

There is a higher ministry than the Environment and Water Portfolio that assumes primary responsibility for climate change, and that is in the hands of the Secretary of State for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen.

Ms Plibersek said a priority for her department would be the review of environmental approval processes.

Ms. Plibersek makes a rare campaign appearance behind Anthony Albanese (center).  The education portfolio for which she was a long-time spokesperson in the opposition was given to Jason Clare (right), who was considered a strong campaign presence

Ms. Plibersek makes a rare campaign appearance behind Anthony Albanese (center). The education portfolio for which she was a long-time spokesperson in the opposition was given to Jason Clare (right), who was considered a strong campaign presence

Morrison’s government pledged $128 million in March to expedite environmental approvals, but Ms Plibersek promised not to go ahead with it, but looked to an independent review of the process.

Ms Plibersek accused the Morrison government of failing to publish a ‘scathing’ report on the state of Australia’s environment ahead of the election and said she would do so in July.

Labor pledged the day before the federal election to establish a new watchdog, the Environment Protection Agency, to enforce federal environmental laws, which some critics say was not done.

The agency is still in the embryo stage, Ms Plibersek told the Australian Financial Review

“I will not make any announcements without extensive consultation. I’m going to talk to people about a model, we’ll design a model, we’ll discuss a model,” she said.

Ms Plibersek said she would continue the previous government's fight against the UN by declaring the Great Barrier Reef endangered, arguing that Labor would do better to protect it

Ms Plibersek said she would continue the previous government’s fight against the UN by declaring the Great Barrier Reef endangered, arguing that Labor would do better to protect it

“I’m not going to think about this in my office in a few weeks. It’s a big important change.

‘We want to better protect the environment, in a way that makes approval processes faster, cheaper and less complex.’

Despite wanting more protection for the Great Barrier Reef, Ms Plibersek said she would continue the Morrison administration’s fight against seeing the natural wonder listed as endangered by the UN.

‘I would absolutely say to the UN [that] Labeling the reef as endangered is not correct,” she said.

She said it would be “unfair” for the UN to ignore its government’s new efforts to protect the reef with stronger climate change measures and more money to protect, rehabilitate and restore it.

Ms Plibersek said the previous government had hidden a damning report on Australia's environment and pledged to step up efforts to protect endangered species such as this quoll.

Ms Plibersek said the previous government had hidden a damning report on Australia’s environment and pledged to step up efforts to protect endangered species such as this quoll.

Ms Plibersek said she also wanted more protections to protect endangered native species and natural environments threatened by imported animals, although she made no financial commitments.

“We need to make sure we explain Australia that we can have both – we can have a strong, growing economy and better protect our environment,” she said.

She also pledged to issue a report in July on farmers buying back water from the Murray-Darling Basin for environmental reasons, a program that was halted by the Morrison government.

During the election campaign, Ms Plibersek rarely appeared with Mr Albanese and was not present at the launch of the Labor campaign in Perth, leading experts to speculate that she had been ‘set aside’.

Ms. Plibersek brushed off those suggestions, insisting that she campaign across the country and appear regularly on radio and TV.

The 52-year-old Sydney member was deputy Labor leader under Bill Shorten for six years and is the longest-serving woman in the House of Representatives.

When it was announced that Ms Plibersek would become Minister of Environment and Water, she posted on Facebook that she was delighted to have been given the portfolio and was “looking forward” to the challenge.

Ms Plibersek is the longest-serving woman in the House of Representatives and said she must remain in parliament for the 'long term'

Ms Plibersek is the longest-serving woman in the House of Representatives and said she must remain in parliament for the ‘long term’

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles denied that it was a relegation.

“That’s the last thing I’d see it in,” he said.

‘I mean, that’s perhaps how the former government saw that policy area, but for us the environment is paramount – and it has always been in Labor governments.

“And for Tanya, it’s a source of lasting passion, as well as water.

After the loss of Bill Shorten in the 2019 election, Ms Plibersek said she was considering running for leadership but ultimately concluded that “it wasn’t her time.”

While planning to remain in parliament for the long term, Ms Plibersek said she was not considering leadership ambitions.

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