In late 2019 Kean made national headlines for his unequivocal comments linking the bushfires that were ravaging the country with climate change. It made headlines because it departed, dramatically, from the coalition party line at the time which was to avoid talking about the climate, let alone climate change, at all costs.
NSW environment minister Matt Kean is the man who has split from his federal Coalition counterparts on this issue of climate change. He says we should be listening to the scientists and the facts are clear. pic.twitter.com/vKehl3Ghf7
— The Project (@theprojecttv) December 11, 2019
“We cannot deny that these fires have been going on for weeks and we need to address the causes of them,” Kean said in December last year. “We need to be doing our bit to make sure we mitigate or adapt to these more extreme weather events happening and we do our bit to abate carbon and reduce the impact of climate change.”
It is an argument he has continued to make in the weeks since, including speaking on Sky News on Sunday night very frankly about the problem.
On Monday morning on ABC AM when the Prime Minister Scott Morrison was asked about Kean’s stance his response was quite extraordinary.
“Matt Kean doesn’t know what he’s talking about, he doesn’t know what’s going on in the federal cabinet [and] most of the federal cabinet wouldn’t even know who Matt Kean was.”
Of the NSW LIBERAL environment minister the PM says “most of the federal cabinet wouldn’t even know who Matt Kean was”. If that’s true – which I HIGHLY doubt – any federal minister who doesn’t know who he is should be sack immediately for rank incompetence!
— Peter van Onselen (@vanOnselenP) January 19, 2020
It’s a shocking rebuke on a number of levels. For starters, accusing Kean of ‘not knowing what he’s talking about’ is the kind of insult usually only hurled publicly at politicians from another side.
Second, if Morrison is right, which is hard to imagine given the prominence of Kean during this catastrophic fire season, what exactly have Federal Cabinet been doing?
Even the suggestion that the most senior Federal MPs in the country might be in the dark about the state environment minister overseeing one of the worst affected states is alarming.
If Australia’s most powerful politicians aren’t interested enough in the national response to this crisis to be aware of one of the key politicians, from their own side, what exactly are they interested in?
Federal Cabinet, allow me to introduce you Matt Kean. He’s the environment minister in NSW. (But you know that already, right?)