Malcolm Turnbull has announced he has resigned as Communications Minister and a member of the federal Cabinet in order to challenge Prime Minister Tony Abbott for the leadership.
The announcement this afternoon in a courtyard of the Australian Parliament House leaves the Department of Communications, Digital Transformation Office, Australian Communications and Media Authority, and NBN without a driving minister.
Turnbull’s tenure at the helm of the Communications portfolio has been marked with a strident push for digital transformation. Digital innovation in federal government nearly ground to a halt after the departure of Lindsay Tanner in the Finance portfolio championing the Gov 2.0 task force, until Turnbull was given Abbott’s blessing — and $250 million — to restore the movement to prominence under the Digital Transformation Office.
Turnbull also instigated a substantive review of ACMA’s structure, regulations and functions. That review is ongoing and will outlive the Turnbull’s time in the portfolio.
A digital-first prime minister?
If Turnbull’s bid for the leadership is unsuccessful, many will wonder whether the digital transformation momentum will extinguish.
However, if he successful, Turnbull may bring Senator Arthur Sinodinos back into the ministry in a key central portfolio with responsibility for the DTO. Sinodinos, who left the outer minister last year due to an investigation by New South Wales’ Independent Commission Against Corruption, has shown an interest in digital innovation in government and is seen as highly capable.