Monday, 16 September 2013 16:07

Turnbull confirmed as Minister Featured

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Fletcher, Abbott and Turnbull Fletcher, Abbott and Turnbull Ashanna Roberts, Macleay College

As expected, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP will be Australia’s next Minister for Communications. No mention of ‘broadband and digital economy’.

Turnbull will be in Tony Abbott’s 19 strong Cabinet, which is largely free of any surprises. As expected, his Parliamentary Secretary will be Paul Fletcher, Member for the safe Northern Sydney seat of Bradfield (formerly held by Brendan Nelson) and formerly head of corporate and regulatory affairs at Optus for eight years.

There was no mention of any other assistants – Anthony Albanese had three in his short stint in the role. Nationals leader Warren Truss will be Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, but is likely to steer well clear of the NBN.

Julie Bishop will be the only woman in Cabinet, following the withdrawal of Sophie Mirabella following her possible defeat. The Science portfolio has been incorporated into Industry, under Ian Macfarlane. Science will not be a priority under this Government.

Unlike his Labor predecessors, Turnbull will simply be Minister for Communications. Expect the unwieldy moniker of Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) to get a similarly shortened title – anything suggestive of the ALP will go.

The appointment of Paul Fletcher was expected – we’ll hear a lot more from him. He knows is subject, and wrote a book wittily titled ‘Wired Brown Land – Telstra’s Battle for Broadband’, about Telstra’s bid to build and operate the NBN (which may yet happen if it buys a privatised NBN Co). He was a Fulbright Scholar and chief of staff for Howard era Communications Minister Richard Alston.

But Fletcher is also to believed to be responsible for the Coalition’s election eve Internet filter cock-up, so maybe he will be kept quiet for a while. The first Abbott Ministry will be sworn in by Governor General Quentin Bryce at Parliament House on Wednesday.


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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire. He is one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’

He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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