Karen Andrews was the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology in the previous Morrison Government and does not want to tempt fate by speculating on whether she will retain the portfolio ahead of the Prime Minister naming a new Cabinet.
But it is worth noting that the former engineer has always had a keen interest in the portfolio. It’s also worth noting that she was handed the portfolio just eight months ago as the sixth industry minister in six years.
With Scott Morrison’s “miracle” win on Saturday still fresh, an ebullient Ms Andrews said that ultimately the election came down to voters’ decisions about jobs and the economy, especially in her home state of Queensland.
Regardless of who takes the industry portfolio, Ms Andrews said technology would be a key policy focus as a driver of growth in the economy and as a “key job creator.”
She said the government would refine and build on the foundations of the successful National Innovation and Science Agenda from 2015. Part of this would include building strong relationships between government and key people in the technology sector and key organisations.
Ms Andrews had been Assistant Minister for Science when NISA was unveiled, alongside the now retired former industry minister Christopher Pyne and then assistant minister for innovation Wyatt Roy.
Given the sheer breadth of the industry portfolio, Ms Andrews told InnovationAus.com that dividing the portfolio again among senior and junior ministers remained an option for the Prime Minister.
“It will be up to the Prime Minister to determine his Cabinet and who is in the different portfolios,” Ms Andrews told InnovationAus.com. “I am an engineer and I have always had a keen interest in industry, science and the tech space … but ultimately it’s a decision for the Prime Minister.”
“Scott Morrison has done a terrific job in the time he has been Prime Minister to steer us in the direction that we need to be headed,” she said. “And that direction has been well and truly supported by Australians, particularly in Queensland.”
“In terms of technology, the important thing to understand is that we in government are very focused on the economy and growing [the number of] jobs in Australia. Technology is obviously a very important part of building our economy and our future. It is a key job creator.”
“Technology will actually be one of the things that we focus on as a driver of our economy and a driver of jobs into the future,” Ms Andrews said.
“It is important to recognise that NISA was a good policy and provided a good foundation over four years. NISA won’t simply disappear. We will have a look at the positive things that have come out of NISA, and what we need to do in order to readjust policies as we go through the next three years of this term.
“Part of that will be making sure that we have really good working relationships between government and key people in the technology sector and key organisations so that we can move forward together,” she said.
Ms Andrews acknowledged the special role that Queensland played in securing the election victory.
“Queensland was actually very interesting, particularly if you look at central and north Queensland, where there were some enormous swings – well beyond what you normally see in a federal election,” Ms Andrews said.
“Clearly the issue was jobs, and people see mining and the resources sector as a key driver of jobs in central and north Queensland – and that’s exactly what played out,” she said.