Shadow cybersecurity minister James Paterson has assumed responsibility for the Home Affairs portfolio after Karen Andrews announced her intentions to retire at the next election.
Opposition leader Peter Dutton revealed his new ministry on Tuesday following the departure of shadow attorney general Julian Lesser over the Coalition’s Voice stance.
Just before the reshuffle, Ms Andrews, who has served as the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs since last year’s election, revealed she was stepping down and would not contest the 2025 federal election.
Mr Paterson has been named the new Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, while retaining the role as Shadow Minister for Cybersecurity. His former role as Shadow Minister for Countering Foreign Interference has been dissolved.
He is also a member and the former chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, and has been a loud advocate on security concerns relating to Chinese-owned technologies including security cameras, DiDi, and TikTok.
Ms Andrews was the longest serving Industry minister under the last Coalition government, overseeing the Industry, Science, and Technology portfolios between 2018 and 2021.
She also spent the year in the lead up to the 2022 election as the the Home Affairs minister.
During her tenure, the government passed significant reforms to the Security of Infrastructure Act, including a ‘last-resort’ power for the ASD to take control of privately-owned critical infrastructure in the event of a cyber-attack.
Another bill that would have introduced a new penalties regime for ransomware criminals lapsed before the election. It was reintroduced to parliament last September, but was withdrawn in March due to a lack of debate, as per standing orders.
In a statement, Ms Andrews described her service as Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Industry, Science, and Technology as “the greatest honour of my life”.
“I am proud to have been the first female Queensland MP in a Cabinet role, and I am even prouder of the strong work the Coalition did in government to safeguard Australia’s national security – including introducing world-leading legislation to protect Australia’s critical infrastructure,” she said.
She also highlighted support for the manufacture of PPE and other items at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian space sector, and the gender equity in STEM.
Mr Dutton thanked Ms Andrews for her “many years of fine service on the Coalition frontbench” and praised Mr Paterson’s work so far.
“Karen was a distinguished and first-rate minister during the period of the last Coalition government and I am so grateful for her contribution to the Coalition team over many years,” Mr Dutton said.
“James has done an outstanding job in holding the government to account for its failures in cyber security, along with raising the critical issue of foreign interference in our community. He will retain his existing shadow ministerial portfolio of cybersecurity and I am delighted to bring him into the shadow Cabinet.”
Mr Paterson said he was honoured to be chosen for the new shadow ministerial role, adding that “there is no more sacred duty of government than to keep Australians safe and secure”.
He said that the Albanese government’s changes to the Home Affairs portfolio, as well as “confusion over who is responsible for cyber crime, which had to be fixed by belated machinery of government changes”, were examples of national security being deprioritised.
The reshuffle was triggered by the departure of Julian Leeser from his role as Shadow Attorney-General and Shadow minister for Indigenous Australians. He stepped down so that he would not be subject to the Shadow ministry’s bind to voting ‘no’ in the upcoming referendum on an ‘Indigenous Voice to Parliament’.
Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Michaelia Cash will fill the shadow Attorney General vacancy. She was the Attorney-General between 2021 and 2022.
Nationals Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price takes up the role as Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians.
The other new shadow ministry appointment is Senator Kerrynne Liddle as Shadow Minister for Child Protection and the Prevention of Family Violence. She fills the other vacancy left by Ms Andrews.
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