Long-standing champion of Aussie startups Ed Husic is taking on the role of Shadow Minister for Innovation and Industry, following Labor Leader Anthony Albanese’s cabinet reshuffle.
Husic previously held the role of shadow minister for the digital economy, and in that role, stood as a staunch advocate for the Australian tech and startup scene.
In May 2019, he stepped down from the frontbench to make room for former New South Wales premier Kristina Keneally.
At that time, StartupAus chief Alex McCauley said the sector was losing an “indefatigable supporter of tech and entrepreneurs”.
Just three months ago, in November, Husic rejoined the shadow cabinet, taking on the role of shadow minister for agriculture and resources, following the resignation of Joel Fitzgibbon.
Speaking to the press on Thursday, Albanese dismissed questions about Husic’s short-lived tenure in his agriculture role, saying he did “a terrific job”.
However, he also pointed to his track record in the tech sector.
“I think that his appointment will be welcomed, and that Karen Andrews today will be a nervous minister,” he said.
McCauley wholeheartedly welcomes Husic’s new appointment.
“For years, Ed has been the single biggest champion of Australia’s emerging technology sector in any parliament in the country,” he tells SmartCompany.
“He understands the issues, knows the leaders in the sector, and gets how important success in this area is for Australia’s future prosperity.”
McCauley anticipates that people from all areas of the tech sector — including startup founders, investors and leaders of big tech players alike — will be “thrilled” to see Husic take up the reins on this portfolio for Labor.
“He’s invested a huge amount of his time and political capital in helping this industry grow and thrive.”
Back in 2019, Husic came out swinging as an opponent to the controversial Assistance and Access Act 2018, or AA Bill.
At that time, he committed to continuing fighting “these terrible laws”, and to generally being a thorn in the side of the government, ensuring reform remained on the cards.
He was also behind Labor’s plans for a $3 million blockchain academy in Perth, and upskilling Aussies in this technology.
It is unclear, currently, whether these issues will take priority as Husic takes on his new role. At the time of writing, his media team has not responded to a request for comment.
The reshuffle also saw Brendan O’Connor, who previously held the innovation role, shifted to defence, while former shadow innovation minister Clare O’Neil will take on the aged-care services portfolio.
Deputy Leader of the Labor Party Richard Marles will become Shadow Minister for Small Business, part of a ‘super portfolio’ that also includes national reconstruction, employment and skills.
Despite a controversial switch-up in the climate portfolio, which saw Chris Bowen take over from the arguably more ambitious Mark Butler, Albanese was keen to stress climate change and science as key focus areas for the new shadow cabinet.
It’s all part of a broader plan to create jobs, he told the media, highlighting the “enormous opportunities” for Australia to become a superpower in renewable energy.
“Action on climate change creates jobs, it doesn’t cost jobs,” he said.