Scott Morrison’s first Cabinet as Prime Minister continues the break up and eclipse of the former industry portfolio and installs yet another differently experienced minister in the key role.
Much of the former department is now in a catch all called Jobs and Industrial Relations.
The (industry) role moves from Michella Cash who barely caused a ripple in her short time in the job, to minister for women Kelly O’Dwyer, a solicitor with no apparent exposure to industry.
Cash emerges with the portfolio of Small Business, Skills and Vocational Education.
However another minister, Dan Tehan, crosses over Cash’s role in Education and Training.
The lack of a single strong focus on industry continues with Simon Birmingham taking on the role of Trade, Tourism and Investment.
Of course the most active area of industry policy in the Turnbull Cabinet was Defence Industry, which under Christopher Pyne achieved much in linking business to Defence and assisting local companies win local and international contracts.
Pyne moves across to the bigger portfolio of Defence, and Steve Ciobo comes into Defence Industry.
Ciobo has a small business family background and worked in a food factory while studying law.
All in all this is a disappointing result. There is no lead, senior minister focused on value-adding industry, a plethora of overlapping ministries with no apparent mechanism for co-ordination, and incumbents with little or no apparent interest in the subject. And still there is no science minister.
Only the fact Pyne has serious runs on the board, and the existence of a separate Defence Industry minister in the ministry, gives much hope of progress on industry policy.
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Read the discussion in the Forum here.