by Rebecca Merrett

Senator Mitch Fifield becomes Communications Minister

Sep 20, 2015

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has revealed his new ministry, with Senator Mitch Fifield becoming the new Communications Minister.

Fifield, who was Assistant Minister for Social Services, takes over from Turnbull who quit as Communications Minister last week and overthrew Tony Abbott in becoming Prime Minister.

The new comms minister has been welcomed by Internet Australia, the peak body representing Internet users, with CEO Laurie Patton calling for the new minister to take bold actions to get Australia more involved in the global digital economy.

“Hopefully, having a Communications Minister with a ‘tech savvy’ Prime Minister will see things change and there’ll be a greater focus on digital innovation,” Internet Australia’s CEO, Laurie Patton, said in a statement.

Patton also called for the new minister to re-assess the data retention and website blocking laws that were passed under former PM Tony Abbott.

“The Data Retention Act urgently requires attention. It is timed to commence on October 13th and yet many ISP’s are still struggling to understand their obligations under this legislation we say is fundamentally flawed. “We still have no idea how the funding allocated to this initiative will be distributed. In any case, it is well short of the likely actual operating costs which means Internet consumers will be hit with increased user fees.

“There is clear evidence that the best way to eliminate ‘piracy’ is for the rights holders to make their content available timely and at a reasonable cost to consumers. Site blocking is a very blunt weapon that has the potential to damage the way the Internet operates.”

Turnbull also announced Christopher Pyne, who was Education Minister, as the new Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science.

Turnbull said at a doorstop interview in Canberra today that there needs to be more collaboration between primary research, universities and business.

“We’re actually the second worst in the OECD, so it is, that is a very, very important priority to make a change to that,” Turnbull said.

“We have to make sure that people understand that we have the values, the character, the commitment, the intellect, the imagination to be able to grasp the future, seize those opportunities.

“We are living in a world that has been transformed in a very short period of time by science.

“We have to be a government – and we are a government, we will be a government – for the future. That is critical.”