Science and tech elevated in Perrottet’s new Cabinet


Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

Science, Innovation and Technology is one of three new portfolios announced Monday in New South Wales premier Dominic Perrottet’s sweeping cabinet reshuffle, which also sees nine first time ministers added to the 26-person state cabinet.

Northern Sydney MP Alister Henskens will take charge of the state’s new Science, Innovation and Technology portfolio while Victor Dominello’s title has been tweaked to Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government.

Green tech advocate Matt Kean will keep his energy responsibilities but drop environment, and will retain his position as Treasurer.

Industry has been dropped from Stuart Ayres’ portfolio, which now includes Enterprise, Investment and Trade, Tourism and Sport, and Western Sydney.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet announced a 26 person cabinet on Monday

Premier Perrottet announced the new cabinet on Monday as COVID cases soared more than 2,500 in the last day, saying the large cabinet was needed during a pandemic while continuing to resist calls for more restrictions to contain the latest COVID-19 surge.

He said members of the new cabinet had been chosen on merit and there would be a reduction on parliamentary secretaries to offset the large 26-member cabinet.

Gabriel Upton, who leads the government’s current research and development programs, will remain as the only parliamentary secretary to the premier.

“We think, obviously as we’ve gone through the pandemic, and [seen] the importance of strong government, as we as we move through this challenging time, [it is important] that we increase the size of cabinet,” Mr Perrottet said.

Cities, Homes, and Science, Innovation and Technology are the three new portfolios created in the new cabinet, with the premier saying the latter will be focused on creating “great jobs through cutting edge research, innovation and local manufacturing”.

Alister Henskens, a former solicitor and barrister who entered politics in 2015 will be responsible for Science, Innovation and Technology. He has held the Families, Communities and Disability Services portfolio this year after previous minister Gareth Ward moved to the crossbench amid allegations of sexual violence.

Mr Henskens also picked up the Skills and Training portfolio and will be leader of the House in the Legislative Assembly. He was unavailable for comment on Monday.

Victor Dominello is now the Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government after holding the customer service portfolio for more than two years and digital since March.

Gabrielle Upton, who led the development of the state’s research and development programs as a parliamentary secretary to former premier Gladys Berejiklian will remain as the only parliamentary secretary to Mr Perrottet.

“I will continue to be a strong advocate for our future Industries and R&D,” Ms Upton told InnovationAus following the reshuffle.

“I’m so proud we’ve set up New South Wales to realise our ambition from two years ago to turn more ideas into new industries and jobs.”

Matt Kean, who developed the state government’s emissions reduction policies and electric vehicle program, retained  his role as Treasurer, which he moved into when Dominic Perrottet was made premier, but will drop “Environment” from his former title of Minister of Energy and Environment.

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