Ed Husic out of shadow ministry

Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

Ed Husic has stepped down from the Labor frontbench and his position as shadow minister for human services and the digital economy.

Mr Husic has been a major proponent of the tech and startup sectors and unveiled a series of digital skills and training-focused policies during the recent election campaign.

Labor has now lost its two main technology representatives from its shadow ministry since the election loss, coming after Industry spokesman Kim Carr also announced he would step away from the role.

Mr Husic posted on Facebook on Wednesday afternoon that he would be stepping down from his role as shadow minister for human services and the digital economy to make way for Labor Senator Kristina Keneally.

He will remain as a member of Parliament on the Labor backbench.

Senator Keneally had sought the role of deputy Senate leader but didn’t have the necessary numbers, and needed someone from her own right faction to make way for her in the shadow ministry.

“While I’ve loved being a shadow minister, I won’t be running for re-election to that role today,” Mr Husic said on Facebook.

“Instead I’ll be backing my great friend Kristina Keneally for that spot. We need to ensure someone of Kristina’s enormous talents has the opportunity to make a powerful contribution on the frontline, in the Senate,” he said.

“In the aftermath of the federal election, there are things we need to do to rebuild our standing – especially in the place I love, Western Sydney – and I’ll be doing just that.”

Freshly-minted Labor leader Anthony Albanese had earlier made clear he wanted Senator Keneally on his frontbench.

“I’m making it very clear as leader of the Labor party, I want the best team, and the best team includes Kristina Keneally,” Mr Albanese told reporters on Wednesday.

Senator Keneally soon thanked Mr Husic for stepping aside.

“I thank my good friend Ed Husic for his gracious and strong support for me to stand for the frontbench. Ed is talented, he enjoys wide support in the NSW Right and across the ALP. I am certain he will play a big role in an Albanese Labor government,” she tweeted.

The Labor caucus will meet on Thursday to select its frontbench, but the specific portfolios and shadow ministers won’t be unveiled until next week.

Mr Husic has served as the shadow digital economy minister since October 2016, and previously acted as shadow minister for the future of work and shadow parliamentary secretary to the leader of the opposition assisting with digital innovation and startups.

He has been the strongest supporter of technology industry and startups in the Parliament, and was the driving force behind the Opposition’s digital skills policies during the election campaign.

StartupAus chief executive Alex McCauley said Mr Husic will be sorely missed in the startup sector, and hopes he will soon return to the shadow ministry.

“Ed Husic is a real asset to the Labor party and has the whole of Australia’s tech sector barracking for him. I have no doubt he’ll be back,” Mr McCauley told InnovationAus.com.

Senator Carr announced he would also not be continuing in his role of shadow innovation minister last week, after serving in the position for three years.

“Innovation policy is critically important to the Labor movement. It is the thread that draws industry, science and research policy together. Labor will always seek to work with industry, unions and researchers to develop a 21st century industrial structure that will ensure prosperity for all Australians,” Senator Carr said.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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