NSW environment minister James Griffin ready to embrace challenges of job

Rising up, Griffin’s mother and father emphasised group and participation. “There’s always been a sense of service above self – maybe not manifesting by going and joining the defence force,” he says – though it was an concept he had flirted with.


Griffin says his years at St Mary’s Cathedral Catholic Faculty Sydney and Notre Dame College have been “pretty normal”, however should you look again over it you’ll be able to see the seeds of a public life. He was the president of the Scholar Union, based a college rugby group – sponsored, in fact, by a neighborhood pub – and have become lifelong buddies with a few of his lecturers, two of whom even sported blue Liberal shirts throughout Griffin’s election campaigns.

After eight years within the company world, together with time as a director at KPMG, the chance arose for Griffin to attempt his hand at politics. In 2017, then-Manly member Mike Baird introduced he was stepping down and backed Griffin, then 32, as his substitute for the protected Liberal seat.

“The by-election was pretty crazy, especially stepping into the seat of the former Premier, who was just a giant in the political scene,” Griffin says. “I just called upon all those relationships that I built, having grown up here, and just generated a very community-driven approach to being a local MP and just became that and embodied that.”

“The approach that I took was, I know these people, I know this community, I love it. It’s part of the fabric of who I am.”


Within the 4 years since, Griffin has served as parliamentary secretary for quite a lot of portfolios, together with well being and surroundings.

Sitting within the cafe overlooking the Manly headland on a sunny Sunday morning, Griffin is quietly charismatic. The 37-year-old has the capability of some politicians to interact deeply in a dialog.

Griffin’s predecessor was his NSW reasonable factional ally Matt Kean, who’s now treasurer. When he was power and surroundings minister Kean managed to see via radical power and local weather reforms, making a task that was doubtlessly poison in Coalition politics to be career-defining.

However when Kean was elevated to treasury he took the power portfolio with him. He left Griffin with the only real duty of taking care of the surroundings – no small job given the newest NSW State of Atmosphere report famous that nearly 20 animals and crops had been added to the threatened species listing prior to now three years, temperatures have been 1.1 levels hotter than they have been final century, and the panorama has been ravaged by drought, fireplace and flood. The position can even see him compelled to juggle the competing calls for of Nationals MPs.


Nature Conservation Council chief govt officer Chris Gambian says Griffin’s curiosity within the surroundings was apparent when the 2 met in 2019 – shortly after the council first shaped – however the greatest problem for the brand new minister will probably be proving he’s an “effective line of defence” for the surroundings.

Mentor and pal Julie Bishop, former international minister, says Griffin is the best individual for the job. After they met at a fundraising occasion in 2018, he was launched as a “future talent of the Liberal Party”. Since then, they’ve remained buddies.

“He is sufficiently outspoken on important issues,” she says.

Griffin believes the inherent rigidity between the safety of the surroundings and the wants of extractive industries and agriculture are manageable. “The starting point on all of that is to respect and believe the science as a driver of policy. I’m actually really excited by the opportunity to I’ve got to reimagine some of the relationships that have been contentious over time,” he says over his smashed avo.

“Central to dealing with those challenging policy areas is not fighting the battles of years gone by,” he says. “It is sitting in the room with different perspectives and getting down to the nuts and bolts of what [peoples’] concern is.”

“It’s a balancing act, but with mature discussion and collaboration. It’s that old political saying – the ‘art of the possible’. I am not afraid of saying come back and check my track record in six months’ time, and you will see the fruits of collaboration.”

A part of the answer, he says, is listening to from these with totally different factors of view; individuals like his mom – former Greens councillor Cathy Griffin.

“It’s really, really useful to be able to sit around the dinner table and talk to her to understand the view of the Greens or someone who is that invested in the environment from a political perspective to appreciate how they see the world and policy and what it is that the government is or is not doing,” he says.

Griffin stays near Kean, and different figures of the moderates, together with Minister for Infrastructure and Cities Rob Stokes and Well being Minister Brad Hazzard – whose voters is subsequent to Griffin’s. He additionally stays shut with former Premier Gladys Berejiklian – who presents friendship fairly than any political recommendation. Lastly, Griffin says he’s buddies with legislative council member Taylor Martin. The pair, who bond over their love of browsing, are often confused for each other by constituents and politicians alike.

When requested if Griffin’s future lies because the chief of the Liberal celebration, he laughs. “Ambition is enthusiasm with purpose,” he says. When pressed additional, Griffin says he’s dedicated and targeted on the present job at hand, however he’s additionally excited for future alternatives. “I’ll let you [draw] your own conclusions,” he says.

Regardless of probably the most recent UN chief local weather physique’s report displaying the world was not on observe to carry the worldwide temperature rise to 1.5 levels, and that the window to attaining the objective is closing quick, Griffin says he stays an “environmental optimist grounded in reality”.

“I’m not disregarding the challenges we’ve got. But I think we’re at a tipping point where there is agreement that things need to continue changing,” he says.

When he’s not busy with work or his household, together with his two younger youngsters and “formidable” spouse Elissa – who he says is instrumental in conserving him grounded, Griffin finds psychological remedy in operating with a mens’ group on the weekends. “You just got to keep moving -whether it’s in politics or in life, you just have to keep moving.”

Bella Visa Cafe Manly, 203/33 North Head Scenic Drive, Open seven days, Weekdays 9am-4pm, Weekends 8am – 5pm.

Receipt for lunch with James Griffin at at Bella Vista Cafe in Manly.

Receipt for lunch with James Griffin at at Bella Vista Cafe in Manly.

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