News & Analysis

Former Environment Minister Greg Hunt appointed new Minister for Innovation in cabinet reshuffle

- July 18, 2016 2 MIN READ
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Former Environment Minister Greg Hunt has been appointed the new Minister for Industry, Innovation, and Science, taking over from Christopher Pyne, who has moved on to the Defence portfolio.

It may be a welcome switch for Pyne, who never quite demonstrated the same kind of fervour about the tech and startup space as his former Assistant Minister Wyatt Roy and admitted he was learning on the job.

Pyne said in a statement that he was proud to have delivered the National Innovation and Science Agenda last December.

“This groundbreaking, whole of Government agenda, will give Australians greater ability to develop and commercialise their ideas and I look forward to working with my colleagues across the Government to fully implement it in the months ahead,” he said.

In announcing the reshuffle, which also saw Kelly O’Dwyer’s Small Business portfolio handed to Nationals MP Michael McCormack Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said, “Mr Hunt has been an outstanding Environment Minister and he has a keen understanding of innovation.”

Hunt will be tasked with leading the roll out of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, aided by new Assistant Minister Craig Laundy.

Having served as Environment Minister since 2013, Hunt oversaw the repeal of the Gillard Government’s carbon tax and scrapped its emissions trading scheme, implementing instead a ‘direct action’ policy and launching the Clean Energy Innovation Fund.

The appointment of Hunt, who was a Fulbright Scholar, former consultant at McKinsey & Company, and director of strategy at the World Economic Forum, has been broadly welcomed by the tech sector, though a number of industry figures are just happy that the uncertainty of the last few months, which seemed to take the wind out of the innovation agenda’s sails, is over.

Petra Andren, chief executive of ATP Innovations, said the appointment comes at a pivotal time.

“The need for continued momentum in innovation is crucial to the country’s prosperity. Australia must fast ­track the use of advanced technology in industry to drive sustainable jobs growth and boost our global competitiveness,” she said.

Meanwhile Robert Read, CEO of ASX-listed MedAdvisor, said Hunt is a “strong choice” to champion the innovation agenda.

“From my personal experience with Greg, I feel that he will be able to set the right pace for the Government. Innovation is critical to Australia’s future and driving more partnerships with innovative Australian businesses of any size is critical. It means ensuring the culture in Government bureaucracy is also amended accordingly,” Read said.

StartupAUS CEO Alex McCauley added that Hunt’s appointment is a strong sign that innovation remains key to the Government’s agenda going forward.

“Greg Hunt is one of the Government’s most senior frontbenchers. He is experienced, credible, and capable. He has worked across portfolios and in the private sector, and his appointment to this role is a clear and welcome sign that innovation policy remains right at the top of the Turnbull Government’s economic agenda,” he said.

With the reshuffle, Turnbull announced that the Government will now be able to get back to business, stating that “this election was not about us. It’s about 24 million Australians – their future”.

“It is the service we deliver as their Government, delivering on our commitments, on our programs, on the investments that we have promised – this is a term of delivery.”

Image: Greg Hunt. Source: abc.net.au