Daniel Petre: Who wants the cabinet role that no one wants?


Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Christian Porter. Source: AAP/Lukas Coch.

One could argue that the future financial health of a country — and its ability to fund a decent life for its citizens (think health, schools, pensions, infrastructure) — is based pretty much on the ability of its industries to grow and innovate.

In turn, this should mean that the cabinet role focused on this area — minister for industry, innovation etc — would be one of the most sought after roles.

Technology is changing every job in every industry in every country, and there are global businesses to be created to take advantage of this shift. These businesses employ thousands of people and pay high wages. Surely the more of these that we have, the better our country will be… And therefore the industry minister should have par with Treasury as being the centre of the universe.

Not in Australia.

In the last six years we have had numerous industry ministers. It seems anyone appointed wants to get out as soon as they can, which leaves the only people who want the role are those that need a lifeline.

The second to last minister — Karen Andrews — was a nobody, but was backed by Scomo in the leadership battle, and so was given the industry ministry. Note that in Australia this ministry didn’t want inner cabinet status, so it was placed in the outer suburbs of the outer cabinet.

Andrews survived a while — initially vocalising a bunch of policies that would have damaged Australia’s ability to innovate. Thankfully she took on advice and ended up making some decent policy decisions, but she also seemingly wanted to get the hell out of dodge city.

Scomo then had a problem… Where would he find someone so damaged and lacking credibility that they would jump at the chance to take on the industry minister role?

Christian Porter, come on down. Sure, his reputation is tainted by allegations of rape — allegations which Porter has strenuously denied — but hey, this is only a minister’s role. Welcome back to cabinet, Porter. 

And yet as night follows day Porter showed his one true consistent attribute — really stupid judgment fueled by a sense that he is better than the rest of us.

Exit industry minister number 7. Or 8? Or are we already in double figures? 

And enter Angus Taylor.

Probably the only Rhodes Scholar who doesn’t really believe in human-caused climate change. At at time when the opportunities to create enormous renewable energy technologies and business, we get a guy to run industry policy who thinks gas is kind of like a renewal energy source (if you squint and close your ears).

Given the last short-lived period, surely it is time for Tabcorp or Ladbrokes to run a book on not only how long Taylor will last, but also who is next and how long they will last. You could develop a betting multi where you pick Taylor’s time as Industry Minister, the next poor sod, and then how long they last.

Any initial bets?


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9 months ago

Perhaps the poisoned chalice of the LNP? As a manufacturing veteran of over 45 years, I’ve never seen a more lackadaisical, disinterested approach to Oz Mfg.

Let’s just dig shit up and sell it, and rely on a future services economy, while we do everything we can to undermine innovation and opportunity.


Tommy Jagamara
Tommy Jagamara
9 months ago

And who could possibly forget Sophie Mirabella.

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