Dominello in talks to take a national role on digital

James Riley
Editorial Director

Federal Labor’s Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten has been in quiet, evolving talks with the retiring NSW state Liberal minister Victor Dominello about taking a national role with the Commonwealth in coordinating federal and state government service delivery efforts.

Mr Dominello, the current NSW Minister for Customer Service and Minister for Digital Government, announced in August last year that he would retire from politics at the state election on March 25. He has not announced any specific plan for his post-politics professional life.

The air of collegiality that has marked the collaboration between Mr Shorten and Mr Dominello since last August is understood to have now graduated to a more serious discussion about a potential ongoing role.

There is no specific offer on the table, and it would defy political logic for such an arrangement to materialise before the state election.

NSW Minister for Customer Service and Minister for Digital Government Victor Dominello

But the discussions are serious enough that senior digital leaders both inside and outside of government have talked matter-of-factly and openly about possible arrangements, and about the upside of finding a formal role for Mr Dominello.

The talks are real. It is a fascinating case study in the fast-tracking of a relationship.

Shortly after announcing he would not contest the March election, Mr Dominello is understood to have told Bill Shorten’s office that he had roughly 200 days left in office, and that he would do what he could to help the new federal Government Services minister accelerate cross-jurisdictional digital progress.

The results of that initial collaboration was on show with the announcement that the federal myGov and ServiceNSW would allow credentials like drivers licences and Medicare cards to be accessed on each other’s platforms.

Mr Dominello has pressed for years to share Digital ID as a fundamental to getting cross-jurisdictional digital services moving and is still passionate about the potential benefits of this kind of digital reform.

At the myGov and ServiceNSW credentials announcement, Mr Shorten was full of praise for the NSW leadership on digital and said state opposition leader Chris Minns had indicated that should Labor win the March election, the new government would support the continued development of shared credentials.

Mr Dominello was effusive right back, quoting Mr Shorten’s recent talking points on something Dominello himself has spent years pushing: “Australians are not interested in old colonial boundaries when it comes to service delivery. They just want a seamless experience, because first and foremost, we are all Australians, and we expect governments to work together.”

So, it’s interesting, and certainly worth reporting, given the level of seniority of the digital leaders talking to about the possibilities.

Of course, in his post-politics life, Victor Dominello will have no shortage of job offers.

But rather than taking up a lucrative advisory role at a Salesforce or Adobe or Deloitte, the idea that he could be brought on board to oversee the kind of digital rail gauge issues that has stood in the way is quite appealing.

Those who know Mr Dominello will say he needs to be able to get things done. Passion only gets you so far. Much better is passion plus a senior position in Cabinet, which gave him the political leverage to shift the needle on digital in NSW.

Any role at a national level would need to come with powers to enable leverage, to enable progress.

It is pretty clear that Mr Dominello has no interest in being a political ornament to provide political cover. If he is going to have a role, he is going to need to be able to make a difference.

And that would require a structure – and power – that would allow him to get things done.

It’s pretty interesting. The picture will become clearer when the government formally responds to the myGov review led by business leader David Thodey and team of experts.

It will become clearer still in May with the federal Budget and the allocation of resources. Watch this space.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

  1. Cyrus Lesser 1 year ago

    Dominello is a rare visionary and he has runs on the board. The Service NSW app is the envy of the world. It’s achievement that counts and Dominello has achieved more in his time in the portfolio than anyone else. The Feds are very smart to be looking to him for advice. If he can turn the MyGov white elephant into something as useful at the national level as ServiceNSW app is in NSW, he will be lauded for his greatness. Cheap shots at his background are more than churlish.

    • Digital Koolaid 1 year ago

      Hi Cyrus. Bill Shorten is a lawyer too. He studied Arts + Law. Sydney uni has Arts + Law and Commerce + Law. It has a Health + Law degree and (to my surprise) a Science + Law stream. But neither VB nor BS took that stream. Perhaps you agree. I’d rather see educated, qualified people leading the way. Lawyers just aren’t up to the job. They have strengths in other areas and should stick to their own field. We don’t get jobs in the Law, because we aren’t qualified in the Law. QED

  2. Tom Tomlin 1 year ago

    Victor Dominello, working with Mike Baird and Dominic Perrottet (technology, politics and finance) conceived, architected and delivered the single biggest and most successful digital transformation project in Australian history through their work at Service NSW. There is not a shadow of doubt that Dominello is the most effective, most clued-up, informed, visionary and technology (and data utilisation) savvy politician in Australian politics by a country mile …. and I have never voted Liberal/Conservative in my life, the man’s brilliant, get him signed up.

  3. Digital Koolaid 1 year ago

    Awesome! We need more lawyers “making a difference” in digital. VD was educated at Holy Spirit School (North Ryde) and Marist College (Eastwood). He went on to study law at Macquarie University. In 1991, he was admitted as a practitioner of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and the High Court of Australia after taking the solicitor’s admission board examinations. In 1994, Dominello commenced employment with Etheringtons Solicitors of North Sydney, and in 2000 became a partner. You can’t hold such awesome “digital rail gauge” talent back. Huh?

    • Digital Koolaid 1 year ago

      I remembered that old joke – How many lawyers does it take to change a lightbulb?

      Such number as may be deemed necessary to perform the stated task in a timely and efficient manner within the strictures of the following agreement: Whereas the party of the first part, also known as “Lawyer”, and the party of the second part, also known as “Light Bulb”, do hereby and forthwith agree to a transaction wherein the party of the second part (Light Bulb) shall be removed from the current position as a result of failure to perform previously agreed upon duties, i. e., the lighting, elucidation, and otherwise illumination of the area ranging from the front (north) door, through the entryway, terminating at an area just inside the primary living area, demarcated by the beginning of the carpet, any spillover illumination being at the option of the party of the second part (Light Bulb) and not required by the aforementioned agreement between the parties. hxxps://

    • Mark Toomey 1 year ago

      Tom Tomlin is correct. But how well will a solo part of that team go? There were instances during that transformation where the top executives had to be dragged kicking and screaming (in fear of their cushy jobs) into the future where technology enabled change means wholesale business change. It is only when there is significant change to the machinery of government, taking out inefficiencies of the manual era – the paved cowpaths of first, second and third generation IT systems, that real benefits emerge. Dominello will need a huge amount of power and backing from every minister, including the PM. If he is just appointed to the frequently tried role of Government CIO, or head of the DTA, he will fail.

      It’s a governance problem – focusing on human behaviour, at the top levels.

    • Whataboutism - 1 year ago

      Yeah, but what about the runs on the board Dominello already boasts? He’s not just a lawyer anymore, but an experience politician who gets things done – his achievements are clear.

      What do you bring besides the Digital Koolaid to poison us all with?

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