Turnbull scores Shadow Communications portfolio

Greeted by the ICT industry to be a smart appointment

Malcolm Turnbull has been appointed as the Federal Opposition’s new communications minister, replacing Tony Smith.

The move, widely rumoured and strongly tipped prior to the official announcement by Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, has been welcomed by a number of ICT industry bodies.

Australian Computer Society (ACS) chief executive, Bruce Lakin said Turnbull had a strong technology background and a keen interest in green technology.

While Tony Smith was a “capable politician”, according to Lakin, the appointment of the former Opposition leader to the shadow communications role was indicative of the communications portfolio becoming an increasingly important agenda item for the Coalition.

“Malcolm Turnbull is perceived to be forward looking and innovative,” he told Computerworld Australia. “We would like to see more ideas from the Opposition to advance Digital Economy and increased effort to ensure proper implementation of NBN.”

Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) chief executive, Ian Birks, said Turnbull would likely succeed in keeping communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, to the Government’s promises around prioritising the rollout of the NBN in regional and rural areas.

“I suspect he will be quite effective in the role of Shadow communications minister,” Birks said. “He will put a lot of pressure on minister Conroy and the Gillard Government to deliver.”

The decision to switch from Smith to Turnbull was not surprising given the reception that the Opposition’s national broadband plan had been given prior to the Federal Election, Birks said.

“I think you would have to say that the Opposition would have to feel that the policy they went to the Federal election on broadband and the digital economy was undercooked,” he said. “It turned out to be an election issue and they were somewhat exposed by that.”

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