The government's offer to host a Bjorn Lomborg consensus centre has come off the table, a Senate estimates hearing has been told.
The federal government has dropped its offer to spend $4 million on a research centre to be headed by climate change "contrarian" Bjorn Lomborg.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham said his predecessor Christopher Pyne made the decision in the last week of his tenure.
"A specific incentive for the government for such an institute is no longer available," he told a Senate estimates hearing on Wednesday.
Mr Pyne had decided the plan was unlikely to succeed and the funds could be better utilised elsewhere.
Flinders University had expressed interest in hosting the centre after the University of Western Australia reneged on its plans after opposition from staff and students.
The South Australian university was only informed on Wednesday morning of the withdrawn offer.
Senator Birmingham said any university that wished to engage Mr Lomborg privately should feel free to do so.
He decried some of the "inappropriate" public reaction to the proposed centre, which he said was contrary to the principles of university autonomy and academic freedom.
The Australian Greens questioned the timing of the belated announcement.
"It's curious that the government had made the decision to abandon this some weeks ago yet appear to have sat on the decision," Greens senator Robert Simms said in a statement.