Turnbull unveils new tech ministers in Cabinet reshuffle

New ministers for regional communications, cybersecurity, intelligence, innovation, and digital transformation have been announced by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Bridget McKenzie has been named Australia's new regional communications minister under Malcolm Turnbull's Cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday, with the prime minister also announcing new ministers for cybersecurity, intelligence, innovation, and digital transformation.

The Regional Communications portfolio, created under a previous Turnbull reshuffle last year, was headed by Fiona Nash until she was removed from Parliament during the recent eligibility crisis.

The government's focus on regional communications includes the National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout, particularly its fixed-wireless and satellite components, as well as the mobile blackspots program.

In addition to regional communications, McKenzie is also responsible for Sport and Rural Health.

Michael Keenan has been named the new minister assisting the prime minister on digital transformation, another portfolio created at the beginning of 2016, in addition to his Human Services portfolio.

Former digital transformation head Angus Taylor has been given Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity, while Dan Tehan has been shifted across to Social Services.

Michaelia Cash is now minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation, and Zed Seselja the assistant minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation. Former minister Arthur Sinodinos said he would not be returning due to ongoing cancer treatment.

Former Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is now responsible for Home Affairs, including border security and intelligence, while former Communications Parliamentary Secretary Paul Fletcher has moved into Urban Infrastructure and Cities.

George Brandis has stood down as attorney-general, with former Minister for Social Services Christian Porter taking his place.

While Turnbull on Tuesday lauded Brandis for his eloquence, the former attorney-general gained attention back in 2014 when he brought data-retention draft legislation before Parliament while struggling to describe what metadata is.

In addition to data retention, which is being used to police drugs-related offences far more often than national security concerns, under Brandis' watch the government also passed technology Bills including telecommunications national security legislation, the criminalisation of re-identifying de-identified data, and piracy site blocking.

Brandis was relieved of his copyright responsibilities in 2015, with the responsibilities passed to Communications Minister Mitch Fifield. Digital fair dealing reforms for the Copyright Act have since been passed, although not geoblocking or fair use.

Brandis will be recommended as Australia's next High Commissioner to the United Kingdom in January, Turnbull said.

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