I’m not the IT minister, says Conroy


Communications Minister Stephen Conroy today told press at the launch of a new Macquarie Telecom call centre that he didn’t consider information technology to be part of his portfolio — claiming that role belonged to Industry Minister Kim Carr.

Various sections of Australia’s technology sector have speculated over the past few weeks that new Prime Minister Julia Gillard could split Conroy’s portfolio up — giving the IT part to Labor Senator Kate Lundy, who has demonstrated an enduring interest in the sector, and leaving Conroy with the NBN ball and regulation of the telco sector.

“Well, IT is not formally part of my portfolio — I’m broadband communications and the digital economy and Kim Carr looks after IT, so it is actually already split,” Conroy said, referring to the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.

Conroy’s statement mimics a situation experienced directly after the 2007 Federal Election, when it was unclear whether Australia’s peak IT research group, National ICT Australia, was the responsibility of Carr or Conroy. At the time, Opposition Senator Eric Abetz said the Government was “in a bit of a muddle” with the group — leaving NICTA hanging somewhere between the two ministers.

Conroy also addressed the issue of the Federal Government’s controversial internet filtering policy. In a radio interview this morning, Prime Minister Julia Gillard made her first comments in regards to the Internet filter since winning the Labor leadership several weeks ago. “Stephen Conroy is working to get this in the right shape,” she told ABC Local Radio in Darwin.

When asked what this meant this afternoon, Conroy laughed, responding: “The same as what I have been saying for the last few months, which is we have been consulting on the accountability and transparency measures. We put out our discussion paper and we got a lot of feedback.”

“We’re currently working our way through those issues and we’ve been discussing this at considerable length so that’s what she’s referring to the same as what I’ve been saying for a month or two now.”

When a journalist asked Conroy if the move by Defence Minister John Faulkner to the backbench would open opportunities for Conroy, he said that he would prefer to stay on in his current role as Minister for Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy.

“The Prime Minister, obviously, of the day decides portfolio allocations,” said Conroy. “If she was to ask me my opinion I would say I would like to stay on this portfolio to finish the work on the National Broadband Network. I’ve worked on it since we’ve first created the policy on 2005 and I would like to work my way through.”

“But ultimately I would take any offer that the Prime Minister makes after the election but but I’m very comfortable in this portfolio and there is a lot of work still to be done.”

Look out for the full video of Conroy’s press conference later tonight.


  1. Is this how he manages to avoid admitting he’s the laughing stock of the industry he’s a minister of?

    • I think a lot of people in the telco industry are happy with Conroy — because of the way he’s curtailing Telstra’s power and its nature as a vertically integrated telco. But I do think much of the IT industry proper has a vastly different opinion. And of course the internet industry is really negative on Conroy because of the filter.

      • He’s certainly the minister responsible for impacting the IT sector moreso than Carr. As such, I believe my comment is a fair and accurate representation. Even Telcos I know have a little giggle behind closed doors when his non-telco policies are discussed.

  2. Yeah I tend to agree with Conroy. He’s most certainly NOT an IT minister. Of any kind.

    He should also be splitting the broadband and communications aspects out of his role since they’re certainly IT related.

    What does that leave? Digital Economy? What does that even mean?

    This government – irrespective of the ruling party – is ridiculous.

    • I think there is a fair point here — what does “Digital Economy” really mean? If you can answer this question, you can get to the heart of what Conroy really is responsible for. No matter which way it’s cut, though, I really don’t think Kim Carr is responsible for IT. “Innovation” does not mean “IT”. It really means … nothing. Or if anything, it means R&D — which I don’t really see as IT — I see that as science.

    • It just sounds like Conroy is trying to shirk IT responsibilities.
      Digital Economy is IT related in my books.
      What is the definition of IT in the Government’s eyes? I’m sure each minister has their own definition of IT.
      If no one wants to take responsibility for IT maybe an CTO should be appointed and screw the lot of of them.

      • The real answer is that “Digital Economy” is a spin term. It means nothing whatsoever and is added to the title purely for the purpose of sounding grandiose.

        The whole department has been problematic since I can’t remember when. Irrespective of what name it’s had!

  3. Meh, it is easier to use hip terms like “Digital Economy” which means nothing compared to “Information Technology”.

    Digital Economy can also mean sexy (to the pollies) Cable TV and Satellites. Notice that Conroy was at the browning of Analog TV in North Victoria? Sexy. ISP? Not Sexy. No votes!

  4. if he is not doing IT why is he implementing IT policies that directly impact the nations IT systems? Look at the two responsibilities side by side:
    Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research – Kim Carr
    Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy – Mr Not IT

    which would you say SHOULD be the IT guy? Now if IT is still classed as Research or Innovation wtf is wrong with this backwater country, if its not how is it not his role?

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