Victoria has a new shadow minister for innovation and the digital economy, with Bridget Vallence to serve in the role under new Opposition Leader Matthew Guy.
Mr Guy regained control of the Victorian Liberals last week after challenging Michael O’Brien, and announced his new shadow cabinet on Sunday.
Ms Vallence, the former shadow minister for environment and climate change, has been appointed as the new shadow minister for industry, manufacturing, innovation, digital economy and medical research.
Before entering Parliament in 2018, Ms Vallence worked as a procurement executive in the private sector, with roles at Goodyear Dunlop Tyres and the Ford Motor Company.
“Victorians need hope and a plan for recovery – for our health, for jobs, and for our economy,” Ms Vallence said in a Facebook post.
“I am honoured to continue in the Liberal Victoria hadow Cabinet under Victoria Liberal Leader Matthew Guy.”
As part of Mr Guy’s shadow cabinet reshuffle, David Southwick has been appointed as the shadow minister for jobs and employment, business recovery, small business and business precincts.
Mr Southwick previously served as shadow innovation minister from 2014 to 2018.
The new shadow treasurer and shadow minister for arts and creative industries is David Davis.
In the new role, Ms Vallence will be up against Jaala Pulford, who is the Victorian Minister for Employment, Innovation, Medical Research, the Digital Economy and Small Business.
The role of manufacturing, technology and innovation in Victoria’s economic recovery from COVID-19 is shaping up as a key issue at the next state election, slated for late next year.
In this year’s budget, the state government allocated $180 million to the creation of a centre of innovation at the old Holden factory on the outskirts of the Melbourne CBD.
The previous 2020 budget included significant spending on the tech sector, with the $2 billion Breakthrough Victoria Fund, a $50 million fund for companies accessing the federal research and development tax incentive and the $61 million Startup Capital Fund.
The Victorian government is currently on the hunt for fund managers for several of these initiatives.
The Labor government has also launched the $60 million Manufacturing and Industry Development Fund, positioning the sector at the centre of the state’s economic recovery. Grants under this fund are now open.
The state is also vying to receive federal government support to establish a local manufacturing capability for mRNA vaccines, and has committed $50 million to such a facility.
The state government is understood to have backed multiple bids to a Commonwealth approach to market for an mRNA manufacturing capability.
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