Former startup founder lands NSW shadow digital portfolio

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

The New South Wales shadow Digital and Innovation portfolios have gone to Sydney liberal MPs James Griffin and Mark Coure in a new shadow ministry unveiled by Opposition leader Mark Speakman on Tuesday.

Manly MP James Griffin, a former startup founder and consultant, was given the shadow Customer Service and Digital Government portfolio, which was held by former minister Victor Dominello when the Coalition were in government.

Former Industry and Innovation minister Alister Henskens has been promoted to shadow Attorney General, leaving the now shadow Innovation portfolio to Mark Coure, a liberal MP representing the south Sydney electorate of Oatley.

Manly MP James Griffin is a former startup founder and consultant

The shadow ministry was revealed on Tuesday after a leadership spill in the Nationals Party ousted Paul Toole for new leader Dugald Saunders.

Mr Toole will retain responsibility of Police in Opposition, while the new Nationals leader will hold the shadow Regional, Agriculture and Natural Resources portfolios.

Former Treasurer and Energy minister Matt Kean now has charge of the shadow Health portfolio.

In Opposition, James Griffin will take over the Digital and Customer Service portfolio that rose to prominence under Victor Dominello, who quit politics at the March election. He was also given the shadow Energy and Climate Change portfolio.

Mr Griffin had held the Environment portfolio for a year in government but otherwise has not held a major portfolio since coming to state parliament in 2017.

Prior to politics, Mr Griffin was a share holder in a social media consultancy company SR7, which was bought by KPMG in 2014.

In 2017, a liquidator reportedly found the company may have traded while insolvent before it was wound up owing the Australian Tax Office $160,000. Mr Griffin challenged this trading claim at the time and said the debt was repaid in full.

He would join KPMG after it acquired SR7, spending three years with the consulting giant before retaining former premier Mike Baird’s safe seat in 2017.

In his maiden speech, Mr Griffin championed his electorate and pegged its future prosperity to its  “ability to foster a high‐ growth, high‐tech, local innovation economy” supported by advanced manufacturing.

“As a former startup co‐founder, I am not advocating for government to take the place of enterprise but to fill the gaps, remove red tape and support people willing to have a go,” he said.

Mark Coure, the state MP for the south Sydney electorate of Oatley since 2011, has been given the reigns to the shadow innovation portfolio.

Along with Multiculturalism and South-Western Sydney, he was announced as shadow minister for Jobs, Industry, Science and Technology.

He held the Multiculturalism and Seniors portfolio in the last government.

Before politics, Mr Coure was a small business owner and councillor for Kogarah City Council.

Last year it was revealed that Mr Coure attended a signing ceremony with a former Hurstville City Council councillor under investigation by the state’s anti-corruption watchdog. According to an investigation by The Australian, this occurred on a trip to China “paid for by a billionaire attempting to curry favour with government officials”.

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