The industry portfolio has been split in two following Christian Porter’s fall from grace, with Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price taking on the extra responsibility of science and technology and Angus Taylor permanently taking on the industry aspect of the portfolio.
Liberal backbencher Tim Wilson will also enter the government’s executive ranks as an assistant minister within the industry portfolio alongside Angus Taylor, whose new title will be Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions reduction.
The cabinet reshuffle was announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday after Christian Porter resigned in September as Minister for Industry, Science and Technology following a controversy about his acceptance of an anonymous donation to pay legal fees in a defamation case.
“These changes provide a timely opportunity to reinforce some of the key issues that the government is progressing, especially following on from the successful series of meetings that we recently held in Washington – both the AUKUS arrangements which are now coming to place, and, of course, the Quad,” Mr Morrison said.
The Prime Minister said Ms Price’s new responsibilities would “complement” her defence industry responsibilities “very significantly”.
“It is timely, particularly given the AUKUS arrangements, which will see us working together with the United States and the United Kingdom, linking up our industry, our science and technology supply chains, our scientists, our entrepreneurs and technologists and others – working together to create opportunities in areas like quantum and artificial intelligence,” he said.
Before resigning, Mr Porter had been in charge of the industry portfolio for just over five months, responsible for the industry growth centres initiative and agencies including the CSIRO, the Australian Space Agency, IP Australia and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.
Mr Taylor became the seventh minister to take on the industry portfolio when he took it over from Mr Porter.
In a statement on Friday night, Ms Price said it was “an honour” to have been given the added portfolio responsibility of science and technology.
“As the PM said this morning, there is a strong connection between science and technology and my Defence Industry responsibilities, with the linkages between our economic security and our national security as clear as ever,” she said.
“Australian companies are at the cutting edge of technology and it is critical that we harness this capability to ensure our men and women in uniform are the best equipped in the world during this strategically challenging time.”
Responding to the reshuffle, Labor’s shadow industry spokesman Ed Husic highlighted the “ministerial conveyor belt in and out of the industry portfolio” and Australia’s “plummeting global innovation standing”.
Mr Husic said the PM had “simply clumped a massive portfolio on top of what Angus Taylor already has on his plate”.
“These are both big portfolios that deserve dedicated focus,” he said.
“Rather than appoint a full-time Industry Minister, Scott Morrison appointed a part-time one. Not the eighth Coalition Industry Minister, but their seventh and a half.
“One hundred and eighty-five days after Christian Porter was appointed as Industry Minister, the industry sector braces for yet another blow-in – one who is just as preoccupied and distracted as the last.
“Australia’s industry sector deserves better. They deserve a minister who cares.”
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