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Politics

Ed Husic, Bill Shorten, Clare O’Neil and Brendan O’Connor tackle tech, science, digitisation, cyber, and the skills shortage in the new government

- June 1, 2022 3 MIN READ
New science and industry minister Ed Husic
Labor’s key point guard on tech, Ed Husic is the nation’s new industry and science minister at Cabinet-level in the new federal government.

Prime minister Anthony Albanese unveiled his new ministry on Tuesday and they were sworn in on Wednesday morning.

Husic was appointed shadow industry minister in early 2021, and his appointment has been warmly welcomed by a tech sector long concerned about a revolving door of ministers under the former Coalition government. He also picked up science from the former shadow minister Richard Marles.

There is no digital economy minister, despite lobbying from the tech sector.

Clare O’Neil, a former shadow minister for industry and innovation, is now minister for home affairs and cybersecurity – an election promise that brings back the cybersec minister ditched under Morrison.

Former Labor leader Bill Shorten returns to his passion project, the NDIS, while also managing the Government Services portfolio, which includes myGov and the Digital Transformation Agency.

Brendan O’Connor is minister for skills and training. Tanya Plibersek has environment and water.

Senator Tim Ayres is assistant Minister for trade and manufacturing, under trade minister Don Farrell.

Peak body for innovation technology, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), said it was pleased to see cabinet level ministers appointed across portfolios critical to Australia’s growth.

CEO Ron Gauci said Labor party committed to a range of policies that promise strong support for Australia’s ICT and innovation sectors, including measures to help address the significant skills shortage the industry is facing and to support our critical technologies.

“We look forward to reading the forthcoming Administrative Arrangement Orders to understand which Minister is responsible for the Digital Transformation Agency and whether the Digital Economy Taskforce will continue to exist and if so which Minister has responsibility,” he said.

“We see a strong need for a coordinated cross-government and economy lens on digital to support Australia’s third largest industry so it is disappointing to see the Digital Economy Minister being dropped from the Albanese Ministry.”

Gauci said Minister Husic is well-versed in the sector and has strong relations with the tech industry

“Addressing our skills shortage and supporting innovation technologies is key to growing employment and the economy,” he said.

“We are impressed by the calibre of ministers appointed and will work with them to advocate and grow Australia’s innovation technology and digital economy.”

FinTech Australia new general manager, Rehan D’Almedia praised Husic as “a long-running champion of the technology sector” in Canberra.

“In his early days in parliament, he started the IT price inquiry, investigating the price discrepancies between digital products in Australia and the rest of the world” he said.

“This set the tone for a parliamentary career focused on the tech sector, and has culminated in this appointment in the Albanese government. He comes to the role with both a deep knowledge of the sector and its key players.

“We look forward to working with Ed and the government on a number of key issues in the fintech industry, including the rollout of the CDR, regulation of cryptocurrency and the imminent launch of PayTo.”

Murray Hurps, director of entrepreneurship at UTS Startups said “so happy” to see Husic in the role

“For literally the last 10 years Ed has engaged deeply with, and advocated for, Australia’s startup ecosystem,” he said.

“I can’t think of a more deserving, experienced or exciting leader for this portfolio.”

Render CEO Sam Pratt said bring the Innovation and Science portfolios back together was a welcome move

“Ed Husic continuing in innovation is a positive step in the right direction given his strong advocacy of the tech sector since taking shadow ministry reigns last year,” he said

“Scope of the Innovation and Science portfolio is further expanded given Prime Minister Albanese has not named a Financial and Digital Economy Minister to directly replace Jane Hume’s former remit. Minister Husic’s appointment will hopefully restore much-needed stability on the back of eight different ministers in nine years of Coalition government, in what is arguably the most impactful portfolio on the future of Australia’s economy.”

Pioneering on another level, Husic also became the first Muslim to become an Australian Cabinet minister.