Following a week of political turmoil, Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled his new ministry on Sunday, which includes a shakeup of several key portfolios relevant to the ICT sector.
Most notably, Cybersecurity and Innovation have been completely omitted from current list of ministries, with no direct replacements coming for the significant portfolios.
Some of the other announcements include:
- Senator Mitch Fifield, who withdrew support from former PM Malcolm Turnbull on Thursday, retains his portfolio of Communications and the Arts. Fifield has been Communications Minister since 2015, taking over from Malcolm Turnbull.
- In the vital Industry, Science and Technology portfolio Queensland MP Karen Andrews will enter Cabinet. Andrews had previously served as the Assistant Minister for Science in the Abbott and Turnbull Ministries.
- Former Minister for Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity Angus Taylor departs to the Energy portfolio. There has been no direct replacement for Taylor in Cybersecurity.
- Responsibility for cybersecurity will now sit with Peter Dutton in a reduced Home Affairs portfolio. Dutton had served as Minister for Home Affairs before resigning after the first of two unsuccessful attempts to take the Prime Ministership last week. His remit in Home Affairs will continue to include law enforcement and intelligence gathering agencies, both of which have a direct impact on cybersecurity, but will not include immigration.
- The previous Minister for Jobs and Innovation Michaelia Cash, and her assistant Zed Seselja, have both departed their portfolios, leaving the Morrison Government with no dedicated Minister or Assistant Minister for Innovation. Cash now holds the portfolio of Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education.
- Michael Keenan remains the Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation, but will now work under Paul Fletcher, who is elevated to Cabinet with the Families and Social Services portfolio.
- Member for Reid Craig Laundy, who had served prior to Zed Seselja as Assistant Minister for Industry Innovation and Science, will depart the Ministry altogether.
Innovation out, science in
The addition of Technology to the Science portfolio represents the only real nod to the digital economy in the Morrison cabinet, with Innovation removed from the list of ministries.
In a brief statement from her office on Sunday, new Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said that she “looked forward to drawing on my background as a mechanical engineer” to carry out her new Ministerial role, but gave no information in terms of a possible policy direction.
Her appointment was welcomed by the President of Science and Technology Australia Professor Emma Johnson, who tweeted “I would like to warmly congratulate the new Minister for Industry, Science and Technology - Karen Andrews MP. Karen is a long-time supporter of the sector and we applaud the reinstatement of a dedicated Science Minister.”
However, the removal of Innovation from the list of ministries is concerning many.
Victorian Innovation Minister Philip Dalidakis tweeted his amazement at the removal of Innovation from portfolios shortly after the Ministry was announced, and doubled down late on Monday.
“Since I’ve had the honour of being appointed Innovation Minister, I’ve had to deal with six different federal counterparts," said Dalidakis.
“And now we have a new Prime Minister who has put together a Ministerial line up with no innovation whatsoever, leading to yet more uncertainty for business.
“The new Prime Minister should immediately overturn this baffling decision and reinstate innovation to the cabinet.”
Queensland’s Innovation Minister Kate Jones echoed Dalidakis, saying on twitter: “So much for the new PM Scott Morrison’s forward focused ‘new generation’ ministry – the innovation portfolio has been cut.”