Published On: Tue, Sep 17th, 2013

Australia delivers financial leadership with new cabinet

Under moves to build a ‘stronger Australia, incoming Prime Minister Mr Tony Abbott has unveiled a new Cabinet, with incoming ministers being sworn in 18th September, and heavy-weights on the financial front.

Among the inner Cabinet ministers, Mr Joe Hockey continues as treasurer. As a senior minister, Mr Hockey has handled core portfolios, including financial services, regulation, small business, human services, as well as employment and workplace relations.

Western Australian senator, Mr Mathias Cormann joins as the incoming minister for finance, replacing shadow minister, Mr Andrew Robb, who takes over trade and investment.

Mr Cormann was formerly shadow assistant treasurer and shadow minister for financial services and superannuation. He joined the Western Australian Senate in June 2007.

He has worked as a ministerial chief of staff to WA state government ministers. He was also senior adviser to then Western Australian Premier, Mr Richard Court, and adviser to then Justice and Customs Minister, Mr Chris Ellison.

Communications brief

On the communications front, Mr Malcolm Turnbull retains a communication portfolio, however, without reference to a previous Labor government broadband and digital economy brief.

In relation to the National Broadband Network (NBN), Mr Turnbull earlier noted that: “We want to ensure that all Australians have very fast broadband as soon, as cheaply and as affordably as possible.” However, he cautioned that the NBN at present is “running over budget and way behind schedule. At the current rate of progress it will take decades to complete and close to AU $100 billion.”

Mr Turnbull was formerly shadow minister for communications and broadband. Earlier, he worked as parliamentary secretary, with oversight for a highly-sensitive national water policy. In 2007, he joined cabinet as minister for environment and water resources.

Defending a ‘spycatcher’

As a Rhodes scholar, Mr Turnbull has worked in journalism in Australia and the UK. He began a legal practice in 1980, and successfully defended a former MI5 agent, Mr Peter Wright, in his efforts to publish a memoir, “Spycatcher.”

Apart from impeccable credentials in investment banking, Mr Turnbull is co-founder of high-profile start-ups, including OzEmail, Australia’s first large internet service provider. He also worked with Goldman Sachs & Co (1997) as chairman of its Australian business, becoming a partner in 1998.

Broadband insights

In other news, Mr Paul Fletcher joins as parliamentary secretary to the minister for communication, Mr Turnbull.

Mr Fletcher serves on influential committees, including a Joint Select Committee on the National Broadband Network; the House of Representatives Infrastructure and Communications Committee; and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services.

For eight years, Mr Fletcher was a director of corporate strategy and regulation with the telco, Optus. He is well-known for communications policy, and recently wrote a book on broadband and telecommunications, “Wired Brown Land.”

Australian government financial reforms under the spotlight 2 December 2013 at the 3rd Regional GovCFO Forum Australia 2013.

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