Ed Husic is back on the Labor frontbench

Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

Labor’s strongest tech sector advocate Ed Husic is back on the frontbench after stepping down as shadow minister for the digital economy last year.

Mr Husic will initially serve as shadow minister for resources and agriculture after Joel Fitzgibbons stood down from the role on Tuesday morning. Following a planned government reshuffle by the end of the year, Labor is expected to also unveil a shadow cabinet reshuffle in which he may be appointed to a more technology or jobs-focused portfolio.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese announced Mr Husic’s return to the shadow ministry on Tuesday afternoon.

“Ed is an outstanding Parliamentarian and an outstanding representative of Western Sydney,” Mr Albanese said. “He’s someone who says what he thinks, he’s someone who comes at it with a great sense of humour and character, and he’s someone who has policy detail experience. He is someone who could fill a whole range of portfolios across the board.

Ed Husic
Ed Husic is back on the Labor frontbench

“Before the government reshuffle at the end of the year, Ed Husic will be the shadow minister for agriculture and resources, and then we’ll have a fuller change at the end of the year. He’s someone who will have a contribution not just in this portfolio but also in debates.”

Speaking to the media, Mr Husic said “it’s good to be back”.

“I’ve tried to be as direct and straightforward and speak from the heart in relation to the things I care about. I’m very happy to be responsible for two industries that have been the absolute bedrock of the Australian economy. It will be a huge honour to be in those portfolios,” Mr Husic said.

Mr Husic was shadow minister for the digital economy from 2016 and shadow minister for human services from 2018, up until Labor’s election loss last year.

Following the loss, Mr Husic stood down from the roles to make way for Senator Kristina Keneally to take on the Home Affairs portfolio as part of the factional mathematics that determines ministry positions.

He has been a long-term supporter of, and advocate for, the tech and startup sectors, and has remained so from the backbenches. In June Mr Husic called for a “smart restart” with a focus on these sectors to drive Australia’s economic growth following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Attacking friction points, reducing frustration – if any group can be mobilised and come up with ideals to deal with this it’s Australia’s tech community, large and small. To tackle those problems and also help inject new life into the economy, what we need now is a smart restart,” Mr Husic said in June.

“Out of this crisis comes the chance to do things differently. There is no better time to get started. Let’s get on with.”

Mr Husic called for a number of immediate changes to “mobilise and engage” the tech sector, including the doubling of the Accelerating Commercialisation program, early payments of the research and development tax incentive rebates, a government-backed seed investment program.

In the longer term, he argued for a National Entrepreneurship Pathway focusing on new companies and jobs.

From the backbench, Mr Husic has also raised concerns with the government’s decision to hand a contract to manage cloud hosting duties for the COVIDSafe app to US company AWS, calling for this to be rescinded.

He has also warned that plans to force Google and Facebook to enter into revenue sharing deals with news companies risks being a “bailout” for News Corp.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

  1. Digital Koolaid 3 years ago

    Welcome back Ed, the Bachelor of Arts in Applied Communications. From the uni web site – The Bachelor of Communication (the new name) “encompasses a range of studies in the fields of communication, media and design including specialised studies in the major fields of Advertising, Journalism, Public Relations and Media Arts Production.”

    No mention of digital anything. No mention of economics. How does Ed know about the Digital Economy ?

    In the 1990s, Husic worked as a research officer and was a branch organiser for the CEPU. Then he worked at Integral Energy as a communications manager and became secretary of the Communications Division of the CEPU. He was the national president and divisional secretary of the CEPU (Communications Division). Then he became an MP.

    No mention of digital anything. No mention of economics. How does Ed know about the Digital Economy ?

    What ? You just have to say you know about digital and economics and people believe you ?? Huh ??

    • Michael 3 years ago

      In reply to Digital Koolaid: I’m the founder and CEO of an Australian Artificial Intelligence company. When we were a start up in 2016 we had no better friends in government than Ed Husic. He input into our emerging (now scaled to 26 countries) product development, he co-wrote articles with me in the AFR on the topic of responsible automation, he advocated incredibly well for the tech and start up communities *because he made it his business to learn, immerse and become expert *.
      Ed’s background was not important. Ed’s ability to recognise what’s important for Australia and go into bat for those in his direct or national constituency is what makes him a great politician in a time when that description goes to only a few people.
      We want our leaders to be versatile and ready to learn then ready to act. Read up on his background and achievements before you criticise.

      • Digital Koolaid 3 years ago

        Hi Michael thanks, for sure Ed has to be a good guy. The Wiki entry said that he studied journalism and worked as a research officer, then at Integral Energy and became secretary of the CEPU. If that’s not true I think you can edit Wikipedia entries. If you know about his jobs in digital and economics please add them for us. Thanks ( Was Ed “in government” in 2016 when the LNP coalition was in government since 2013) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Husic

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