Outgoing Liberal ministers responsible for the state’s digital services and innovation push thanked family, friends and advisors in valedictory speeches in New South Wales Parliament on Tuesday.
Both former Attorney General Gabriele Upton and Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government Victor Dominello will leave state politics at the next election in March after more than a decade in government.
Ms Upton has driven the government’s $500 million innovation push in recent years, while Mr Dominello is responsible for what is widely considered to be the exemplar of Australian government digital services.
Mr Dominello spoke for less than a minute, acknowledging love and support he received, while apologising for his failures.
“I hope that my almost invisible speck in space and time, has been respectful to the overwhelming and profound opportunities that I have been given for public service,” he said.
“I wish you every joy and wonder.”
In her address, Ms Upton said it was an honour and a privilege to serve in government and she was most proud to be the first woman to serve as the state’s Attorney General and as Sports minister.
She also noted her recent work leading the state’s research and development agenda.
“[This work] has accelerated the translation and commercialisation of research, working with our startups, our scale ups and our small businesses. And we are now using our large procurement budget in the New South Wales government, our 20 year R&D roadmap, and our precincts — Tech Central, Westmead and Aerotropolis — to drive innovation to create jobs and new industries in New South Wales.”
Following a legal career, Ms Upton entered Parliament in the 2011 New South Wales election and was made Minister for Sport and Recreation in 2013. She became Minister for Family and Community Services in the Baird government in 2014 and was promoted to Attorney General following the 2015 election.
She retained senior minister roles in the Berejiklian government, but was not reappointed to the ministry following the 2019 election after staff complaints about her work environment.
In her later political career, Ms Upton served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier where she led a taskforce investigating pathways to boosting R&D translation in New South Wales alongside the state’s chief scientist and engineer Hugh Durrant-White and David Gonski.
The push would produce a ‘Turning Jobs into Ideas’ action plan with recommendations for innovation programs, a dedicated R&D government department, open data policies, innovation precincts, university support and more targeted support for certain industries.
Ms Upton thanked both Mr Gonski and her “very dear friend” Professor Durrant-White in her valedictory speech on Tuesday night.
“We achieved a lot without a portfolio: A new government department, a new ministry, an over now $500 million invested into that action plan,” Ms Upton said.
“Additionally, I want to acknowledge, over the term of my career here, my long-term partnership with the innovation sector stakeholders, and a particular with our innovation leadership. I do want to acknowledge the Vice Chancellor of Western Sydney University Barney Glover, who joins us here today. These achievements would not have been possible without that strong partnership, and I believe New South Wales would be worse off.”
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