opinion Senator Stephen Conroy has done such a good job as Communications Minister that he should be promoted to take over the Finance Ministry even before incumbent Lindsay Tanner retires at the next election.
It’s important that new Prime Minister Julia Gillard appoint someone with a good track record to be the next Finance Minister. The Department of Finance and Deregulation is one of the more important departments in the Federal Government, and it needs a firm and steady Minister to keep it on an even keel.
The position would represent a promotion for Conroy, as Communications is still seen as a mid-level ministry in the Federal Government – not as important as, say, the Treasury or Health, but more important than Sport, for example. Here’s why we think Conroy should get the job.
1. He’s degree-qualified: Conroy has a Bachelor of Economics from the Australian National University, which means he will understand many of the financial concepts key to the finance ministry. Many of his political colleagues don’t have economic qualifications, and some don’t even have degrees. But Conroy will be down with the financial lingo.
2. His employment history: Before he entered politics he served as superannuation officer with the Transport Workers Union in Victoria, adding to his understanding of the finance portfolio.
3. He has been the shadow minister: From 2001 through 2003, Conroy served as the Shadow Minister for Finance, Small Business and Financial Services. He has also had lengthy stints as the Shadow Minister for Financial Services, Regulation and Corporate Governance.
4. Committee work: Conroy has demonstrated his interest in the finance portfolio through serving on numerous Senate finance committees for many years – such as the Finance and Public Administration: Reference Committee, the Corporations and Financial Services Committee and the Corporations and Securities Committee.
5. He worked closely with Tanner on a number of financial deals related to the National Broadband Network – indeed, out of all the Ministers in Rudd’s Labor Government, it was Tanner that Conroy worked closest with over the past two and a half years.
6. Political allegiance: Conroy is known to be a staunch member of the Labor right faction which catapulted Gillard into power last week. It would be appropriate that Gillard reward several members of that faction with Cabinet promotions.
7. Ministerial performance: Conroy is one of the only Rudd ministers to be successfully delivering a major election policy – the National Broadband Network. The NBN policy is extremely popular in the electorate and it would be fitting for Gillard to reward its chief proponent.
8. Promoting Conroy would allow Gillard to distance him from the internet filter policy, which is extremely unpopular in the electorate. The PM could then gradually weaken that policy (for example, by implementing opt-in or opt-out provisions) so that it doesn’t become an election issue.
9. A major task of the Finance Minister is to administer Government internal technology policy, particularly through working with the Australian Government Information Management Office within the Department of Finance and Deregulation. Conroy’s experience in the technology portfolio would give him insight into how technology is best used in the public sector and how it can better adopt Web 2.0-style technologies.
10. Conroy’s experience in dealing with Telstra and the NBN have given him solid experience of complicated financial situations. This would be to his advantage in the Finance portfolio.
All in all, the evidence is overwhelming that Communications Minister Stephen Conroy should be promoted to be the next Minister for Finance and Deregulation when new Prime Minister Julia Gillard conducts her inevitable cabinet reshuffle. Go Conroy!
Image credit: Office of Stephen Conroy