The Berejiklian government has dumped former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull from his role as head of an advisory body on climate change, saying the focus of the position should not be based on personality.

The move, announced on Tuesday morning, follows days of attacks on his appointment from what Mr Turnbull called “the right-wing media ecosystem”. “It’s just thuggery,” he told the Herald.

Dumped: Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, left, has been removed as head of a state government advisory body on climate change by Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean, right.Credit:James Brickwood/Dominic Lorrimer

Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean said in a statement announcing the dumping of Mr Turnbull as chair of the net zero emissions and clean economy board that its purpose was to “create jobs in low carbon industries and see the State reduce its 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,” the statement said. “The focus should not be on personality.”

Mr Turnbull, who was only appointed to the five-year role last week, said he was “disappointed” by the decision to remove him from a position approved by the NSW cabinet but acknowledged “government appointments are a matter for governments”.

The new board, which will now be headed by the intended deputy, NSW Chief Scientist and engineer Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte, was established to “give strategic and expert advice on program design and funding proposals under the $1 billion first stage of emissions reduction covering 2020-30”.

Within days of Mr Turnbull’s appointment, though, the former PM stirred ire from some in the Coalition by calling for a moratorium on new coal mines or expansions in the state, just as a byelection loomed in the Upper Hunter due to Michael Johnsen’s sudden resignation.

Mr Turnbull said he was never against jobs in the Hunter but rather the need to assist coal miners to find new work as the “coal mining and coal burning” industry faces inevitable decline.

“I wish the government the very best in their efforts to transition the economy to net zero emissions [by 2050],” he said. “I will do everything I can to support that.”

More to come

Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean’s statement in full

STATEMENT ON NET ZERO EMISSIONS AND CLEAN ECONOMY BOARD

The purpose of the Net Zero Emissions and Clean Economy Board is to create jobs in low carbon industries and see the State reduce its 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.

The focus should not be on personality.

Malcolm Turnbull AC has contributed much to our country and I know will contribute more into the future.

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.

A new chair of the Board will be announced in due course. Until then, the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer will act in the role.

I want to thank Mr Turnbull for his willingness to serve and look forward to his continued contribution to public life.

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