Albanese reportedly appointed
new Communications Minister



news Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has reportedly appointed Anthony Albanese, one of his key lieutenants during his leadership coup and an experienced senior Minister, to replace Stephen Conroy as Communications Minister in his new cabinet.

Conroy resigned late Wednesday last week shortly after Rudd’s successful ballot to re-take the Prime Ministership and leadership of the Federal Labor Party from Julia Gillard. Conroy had been a key Gillard supporter and had held the Communications Ministership since November 2007 when Rudd first took power, in what has been seen to be one of the longest-running and most successful tenures in the portfolio by an Australian politician.

Rudd has not yet formally announced his new Cabinet, although the members are due to be sworn in by the Governor-General this morning. However, a number of media outlets are reporting that Albanese will add the Communications portfolio to his existing roles as Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, and Minister for Regional Development and Local Government.

“Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s workload will increase to include communications, which includes the national broadband network,” wrote the Herald Sun this morning. “Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is expected to add communications, including the all-important national broadband network, to his existing infrastructure portfolio,” added the Sydney Morning Herald. “Anthony Albanese, who has been promoted to Deputy Prime Minister, will take over the communications portfolio vacated by Senator Stephen Conroy last week,” reported the ABC.

In other related Cabinet changes which will affect Australia’s technology sector, Kim Carr is reported to have regained the Industry and Innovation portfolio, while it is believed that Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus will retain his portfolio.

iTNews and other outlets have also reported this morning that Rudd has appointed several other MPs with a keen interest in technology matters to assist in the Communications and Industry portfolios. Ed Husic, who spearheaded the IT price hike inquiry, is reported to have been appointed as a Parliamentary Secretary for Broadband, while Kate Lundy has been appointed Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation and for the Digital Economy.

Albanese is not believed to have had any direct experience in the Communications portfolio prior to his appointment. However, the Member for Grayndler in Sydney’s inner west is a highly experienced member of parliament who was first elected to parliament in 1996 and who has held a number of senior positions since.

Albanese served as the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government from in the Rudd Cabinet until August 2010, shortly after Julia Gillard took the Prime Ministership. At that time he lost the Regional Development and Local Government portfolios, but regained them in March this year. Rudd appointed Albanese deputy Prime Minister last week. Albanese has also served as Leader of the House of Representatives since December 2007, a position equivalent to Stephen Conroy’s position as Leader of Government in the Senate.

In Opposition under the previous administration of John Howard, Albanese most recently served as Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate from October 2006; and Deputy Manager from October 2004. He had acted variously as the Shadow Minister for Ageing and Seniors, Employment Services and Training, the Environment and Heritage, and Water and Infrastructure. Albanese also held a role as Parliamentary Secretary to the Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Shadow Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Reconciliation and the Arts.

Albanese has also sat on a number of standing committees; including the Communications, Transport and Microeconomic Reform committee from May 1996 to November 1997; a critical time for Australia’s telecommunications industry during which historic deregulation reforms were being enacted.

In his role as Leader of the House, Albanese has frequently fielded questions about the National Broadband Network (the key project within the Communications Portfolio) on behalf of Conroy — not able to reply as he is a Senator. For example, on June 25 this year Albanese was asked a so-called ‘Dorothy Dixer’ question by Labor MP John Reid about the NBN.

“This is bringing 21st century technology right to people’s homes where it is needed,” said Albanese. “The alternative policy by those opposite proposes fridge-like boxes on the corner of every street and then copper to the home.  In the 21st century they want taxpayers to pay Telstra for 19th century technology – not that their plan has actually factored in paying Telstra for the copper network.”

Albanese went on to attack Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the issue of the NBN. “Of course the Shadow Minister for Broadband and the Copper Economy [Malcolm Turnbull] is not alone in arguing the merits of copper in this Chamber,” Albanese said. “Indeed, Mr Thomas Brown, a member, is recorded as arguing in the old chamber at the old place (old Parliament House): “Copper is used for greater efficiency”.  He was out there arguing the case for copper, just like the Member for Wentworth today.  You can look it up in Hansard – it was on 23 November 1910.  This bloke would have been a visionary 103 years ago, but today he is way behind.”

“Let me tell you there were similar nay-sayers back then.  There was a fellow that the Member for Wentworth could relate to, Mr Mathews.  He said this: ‘The practical men in the Department, not the theorists, think that nothing is gained by using copper wire for short lines.  Some of the iron wire lines have been in use for thirty years, and give as good results now as copper wire lines.'”

“You can just envisage the Member for Wentworth back then with a top hat on rocking up to parliament and saying: ‘We don’t need this copper rubbish. The iron is fine’. Just like today he argues, ‘We don’t need the fibre. The copper is fine,’ and just like the Leader of the Opposition [Tony Abbott] who sees Sonny Bill Williams at a launch and goes, ‘Oh, is that Sonny Bill or is that an apparition?’”

Opinion/analysis to follow.

Image credit: Office of Anthony Albanese


  1. Fight’n Torries over the tubes. Albo is a good choice, he’s a pretty determined character and you need someone with that quirk in the role.

      • Exactly.

        I am no fan of Rudd, but at least he has had the common decency to try and hold on to good politicians (yes I know that’s an oxymoron) as apposed to try and lone-wolf it again. That’s a start.

      • A very good combo indeed, I loved that speech by Albo last week and even my wife enjoyed it despite not being into tech or politics!

      • As long as he takes their advice (no reason he shouldn’t, but you could have said the same about Rudd in 2007). Lundy & Husic have the track record with demonstrated competency and comprehension of the pertinent issues within the portfolio – everything from Albanese previously has been prepared by others. Doesn’t mean he won’t be effective even if he remains generally ignorant, providing he follows advice from those with greater experience and knowledge.

        With such diversified responsibilities, however, he will never be up to the standards of Conroy, which may prove to be an issue when people are looking for clear, concisive leadership in this area at this very critical time.

  2. sorry .. turnbull doesn’t currently wear a tophat??

    really seems a top hat sort of guy :)

  3. At least it gets him away from airports, the least needed infrastructure in Australia.

  4. Personally I liked the first pic…

    It showed Albanese having a joke and his opponent Pyne joining in on the joke…

    It showed politicians may be human after all…

    Phew good thing they made Renai take it down then ;)

    • Don’t mention the war?


      I wonder if Herr Abetz was the target, his uncle was a paid up member of a certain party iirc! :-D

      • This is good news for Labor. Albo obviously doesn’t share Conroy’s years of experience in communications, but he is a convincing politician (that Hansard material he quoted from 1910 has to be one of the best analogous arguments for the NBN yet). Conroy became excellent technically over the years but he has a certain arrogance when arguing his case that many people dislike (not to mention his beloved internet filter made him quite a few enemies).

        I’m happy to see Kate Lundy appointed to the cabinet, and given a position where she will have more input into IT strategies for the government too.

        • “. Albo obviously doesn’t share Conroy’s years of experience in communications”

          Can you please list Conroys “years of experience” in communications… this should be a good one.

          Next up to be rolled… incompetent Mike Quigley who as CEO has missed every single target he has ever set for himself.

          Gee you Labor Fanboi’s are slow learners, Conjob and Quigley should have been out the door years ago, they screwed the pooch and Labor are just waking up to that fact.

          • Can you please list Conroy’s “years of experience”

            What are you trying to say? That Conroy gained no experience in all his years as communications minister? Regardless of your opinion of him, to suggest he didn’t grow his experience and knowledge of IT, while minister is flatly absurd. Rather than spend all afternoon listing his accomplishments, I’ll point you to Renai’s excellent piece farewelling Conroy as “Australia’s greatest ever communications minister”. An assessment I wholeheartedly agree with. If you read that article and still can’t acknowledge Conroy’s growth in expertise over the years, as well as his incredible achievements with Telstra and the NBN, then you are blinded by your preconceptions or political opinions, and are oblivious to the facts.

  5. If anyone actually cares to read the Hansard entry in question, Mr Matthews was arguing that workers employed constructing telegraph poles should be paid higher wages than a basic labourer because the work was skilled work. He was further pointing out that although he knew perfectly well that copper was more electrically efficient than iron, it was also the case that copper was 10 times the price of iron, making iron wire much more cost effective at the time.

    Thus, it made perfect sense to use copper for long haul runs and cheap iron for the sort lines where it was good enough to do the job, this saved money and allowed higher wages to be offered while also offering a service to the public at affordable rates.

    The fact that our new PMG can’t understand this concept of most basic economics is probably why the ALP likes him so much… because they can’t understand it either.

    Indeed, the modern NBN has done much the same thing, insist that fiber (which is good for long distance communication) be used for last mile (where it is not really needed) and further insisting on a full retrofit of working systems at massive expense. The result has been a squeeze on wages for workers, and thus getting the unions offside and reducing productivity, while also spending huge amounts of money for wages at the top management side of things, and ensuring the scheme will never be profitable. Talk about not learning from experience.

    • @ Tel

      We now eagerly await the next three instalments of your tetralogy …

      2. MT did invent the internet
      2. Why the earth is flat
      3. The fine art of keeping a straight face when claiming absolute bullshit

      Sorry mate, IMO that was desperate pedantics taken to th nth degree and that’s saying something having seen your contemporaries here at work.

    • Tel,

      Can you explain to me please why Telstra is deploying Fibre over the “last mile” to premises at new housing estates, then?

      I’d like you to explain to me why a commercial entity is apparently deploying something that is “not needed” in quite a few places. Never mind this was occurring before NBNco started.

      And indeed it hasn’t just been Telstra. I also like how you completely miss the point of Albo’s observation. When you become some fixated on the technical details, you tend to miss the bigger picture.

      • “Can you explain to me please why Telstra is deploying Fibre over the “last mile” to premises at new housing estates, then?”

        +1, i also would be interested on your take on this matter Tel.

        Telstra doing fibre = GOOD
        NBNco doing fibre = BAD

        Does that sum it up?

      • And not just at new housing estates, either — when Telstra had to rebuild the South Brisbane Exchange a few years back, they went ahead and replaced ALL copper with fibre in the whole area.

    • “working systems”

      Dial-up is a working system.

      Horse-and-cart is a working system.

      Rope bridges are working systems.

      Wells are working systems.

      Nomadism is a working system.

      Come, Tel, help me add to the list of working systems.

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