In a chaotic day in Australian politics the New South Wales premier resigned, and the federal innovation portfolio was split in the latest cabinet reshuffle.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian resigned on Friday after the state’s corruption watchdog revealed it was investigating her for potential breaches of public trust related to her awarding of grants.
Ms Berejiklian said she will step down as premier as soon as the state Liberal Party can decide on a new leader, and will leave parliament as soon as a byelection can be safely run.
The embattled premier made a statement on Friday afternoon, saying she had “no choice” but to step down while the subject of an ongoing Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry.
Shortly before her announcement, the watchdog revealed it would hold public inquires into Ms Berejiklian’s involvement in alleged corruption regarding disgraced Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire, with whom Ms Berejiklian had a close personal relationship.
Ms Berejiklian said she had always acted with integrity but could not continue as premier while a subject of the inquiry because the “state needs certainty as to who their leader is during the challenging times of the pandemic”.
“I state categorically, I’ve always acted with the highest level of integrity,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“History will demonstrate that I’ve always executed my duties, again, with the highest level of integrity for the benefit of the people of New South Wales, who I have had the privilege to serve.”
The outgoing premier did not take questions.
Moments before her announcement, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced federal cabinet changes sparked by the departure of embattled industry minister Christian Porter.
Mr Porter resigned as a Minister for Industry, Science and Technology after a controversy about his acceptance of an anonymous donation to pay legal fees in a defamation case.
His vacancy was not immediately filled with a permanent replacement, as the Prime Minister left for an American trip, sparking speculation and more criticism of the government’s regard for the portfolio.
On Friday, Mr Morrison revealed the portfolio will effectively be split with Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price being sworn into the portfolio to take responsibility for science and technology.
The Prime Minister said Ms Price’s old and new portfolio complement each other “very significantly” following the AUKUS alliance announced last week.
“[We are] linking up our industry, our science and technology supply chains — our scientists, our entrepreneurs, our technologists and others working together to create opportunities in areas like quantum and artificial intelligence.”
Responsibilities for industry have been handed to Angus Taylor, the current Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister.
“His job here is to ensure the sovereignty of Australia, to ensure our homegrown capabilities in critical supplies is there for the future,” Mr Morison said.
“Building on the modern manufacturing initiative, and the important programmes right across a suite of areas that were engaged in the clean energy technology supply chains of the future.”
Tim Wilson was added to the executive as Mr Taylor’s assistant minister.
Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alex Hawke is being promoted to cabinet to fill Mr Porter’s vacancy. He will retain all his existing responsibilities.
The Prime Minister also promoted his assistant minister Ben Morton to the Ministry, making him Minister of State, Minister for Public Service and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Gavin Slater has landed at Liberty Financial Group, a controversial non-bank mortgage lender that listed late last year. Mr Slater joins from payday lender Nimble, which he led for more than three years after a brief stint atop the government’s Digital Transformation Agency.
The agency announced its own new leader this week, poaching Queensland’s inaugural chief digital officer Christopher Fechner, as the office undergoes a significant restructuring and refocus.
Standards Australia boss Adrian O’Connell has been appointed to the Council of the International Organisation for Standardisation, the world’s largest developer of international standards, with members from the national standards bodies of 165 countries.
He will serve a three-year term on the core governance body of the global group.
After a more than six-month search, the Australian National University has appointed a new chief information officer, adding Jonathan Churchill last month. He replaces long time information chief Karen Hill, who left the university in late 2019.
Entrepreneur and data scientist Jeremy Howard this week revealed he has been made an adjunct science fellow in CSIRO’s Data61 group.
In a part-time role, the fast.ai founder will help develop the science agency’s AI research capabilities under its newly funded push into the technology.
Professor Simon Biggs has been appointed the next vice chancellor and president of James Cook University.
Professor Biggs is succeeding Professor Sandra Harding, who is retiring after nearly 15 years of service as vice chancellor at the Queensland university.
Oliver Trajcevski, the former Moelis Australia private credit boss has taken a new role as chief investment officer with Lakeba Group, a company with several technology subsidiaries.
Australian financial technology giant Airwallex this week announced the appointment of two new key senior executives.
Joanne Chin has been appointed to the role of global head of people and talent, joining from Kraft Heinz Asia Pacific.
Former finance director at Facebook David Bicknell is joining as Airwallex’s Global SVP Finance. David recently returned to Melbourne after seven years in San Francisco.
Radisson Hotel Group announced the appointment of Evelyn Wong Soo Pin as vice president, finance, tax and IT, Asia Pacific.
Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.