Victorian Labor MP Tim Watts, a former senior staffer to Stephen Conroy as Communications minister in the Rudd government, has been appointed shadow assistant minister for communications and cybersecurity.
He replaces the former shadow on cyber under Bill Shorten, Gai Brodtmann, who has retired from the parliament.
“Communications and cyber security are fundamental to our society, economy and democracy and I am excited to be given the opportunity to help shape and articulate Labor’s agenda on these issues,” Mr Watts said in a statement.
“I’m pleased to be able to work on issues that I have long been passionate about, and draw on my pre-parliamentary professional experience in these portfolio areas in these roles.”
The first-time shadow assistant minister will split his time across three portfolios. As Assistant Minister for Communications, Mr Watts will report through the shadow minister for Communications Michelle Rowland.
On cyber, he will work with shadow minister for Defence Richard Marles and shadow minister for Home Affairs Kristina Keneally.
Appointing Mr Watts to the role is a good thing. It will be a chance for him to showcase his smarts and tech industry interests and experience.
Prior to joining federal parliament, Mr Watts started in the political circuit as deputy chief of staff to Stephen Conroy while he was minister for communications.
The now 37-year-old then became a senior advisor in John Brumby’s office before joining Telstra as a senior executive role in regulatory affairs.
Joining Mr Watts as an assistant minister is highly-regarded NSW senator Jenny McAllister for as shadow Cabinet Secretary, and as an shadow assistant minister to the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Penny Wong.
Senator McAllister has been a tough advocate in the Senate and its committees for the better delivery of services through digital technology.
As chair of an inquiry into the government’s tech spend last year, Senator McAllister handed down a report criticising the Coalition for its series of “tech wrecks”, including Centrelink’s robo-debt scheme, continual ATO outages, and the restructuring of the Digital Transformation Office, now known as the Digital Transformation Agency.