As Ed Husic steps down as Labor shadow minister for the digital economy, members of the startup community have been lamenting the loss of one of few vocal champions of the sector.
On Wednesday, Husic announced in a Facebook post he would not be running for re-election into a shadow minister position, in order to make room on the frontbench for former New South Wales premier Kristina Keneally.
He said he has “loved being a Shadow Minister”, but would not be running for re-election into the role, instead supporting “my great friend Kristina Keneally”.
Shadow minister for innovation Kim Carr has also stepped down.
In a tweet, StartupAus chief executive Alex McCauley called Husic “an indefatigable supporter of tech and entrepreneurs”, and called the news “a big loss”.
Lots of you will be sad, as I am, to see Ed Husic move out of Labor’s shadow Ministry. He’s been an indefatigable supporter of tech and entrepreneurs for years now, so it’s a big loss. But I have no doubt he’ll stay connected with the community and will be back soon. #startupaus
— Alex McCauley (@alexmccauley) May 29, 2019
While Husic himself doesn’t have a Twitter account, his sister Sabina Husic tweeted her thanks for “everyone who is being kind to me on here”, drawing more praise from those in the tech industry.
Hey Sabina, I’m a huge fan of Ed. I love his values, how he shows up at events in the startup community & beyond. I’m sad he’s stood aside, I understand it, but I’m still sad. Tell him I hope he’s back soon, we need him.
— Annie Parker ???? (@annie_parker) May 29, 2019
The move creates space for a startup champion in the shadow cabinet. While it was Kim Carr who previously held the innovation title, Husic has long been regarded as a supporter of the startup industry in Australia.
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In March, at a Safe Encryption Australia event, run by StartupAUS and InnovationAUS, Husic said the Labor Party would push to make changes to the controversial Assistance and Access Act 2018, or the AA Bill, whether or not the party won the federal election.
While he said this was the position of the Labor party as a whole, he also said: “I have made a thorough pain of myself internally on this issue, and have pushed and pushed and pushed.”
He also called on members of the startup community to keep politicians, including himself, accountable “to make sure we fix these terrible laws”.
Husic was also behind Labor’s plans for a $3 million blockchain academy in Perth, saying in a joint statement with then shadow minister assisting for small business Madeleine King, and WA MPs Matt Keogh and Patrick Gorman that, if elected, the Labor party would strive to upskill developers in blockchain.
The academy was intended to “drive skills and training through the Blockchain Academy, teaming up with education and training providers from the vocational and tertiary sectors”, the statement said.
In the Coalition cabinet, Karen Andrews has retained her position of Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, and while there is no dedicated innovation minister, Senator Jane Hume will be heading up a new fintech portfolio.