Once Malcolm Turnbull resigned from Cabinet yesterday, day-to-day duties of that ministry would have fallen to his parliamentary secretary Paul Fletcher (pictured). However, now that Turnbull is being sworn back into Cabinet, the PM-designate will keep the portfolio at least for the next few days until the end of the sitting period. After that, it’s anyone’s guess.
Some are speculating that Fletcher, a former Optus executive, is the only person for the job now that Turnbull has bigger things on his plate. Other names floated include former WA state Treasurer Christian Porter and Senator Arthur Sinodinos (although if he returns to frontbench it’ll likely be to a larger or more central portfolio).
Crikey‘s Josh Taylor yesterday came out for Fletcher as the “only logical choice”:
“While much of the outcome of any partyroom ballot is still up in the air, one thing is for certain: Turnbull won’t be the communications minister anymore. So the question becomes, who is next?
“Although a lot of people rage at Turnbull’s changes to the National Broadband Network, he is seen as one of the most competant ministers in the government. It is difficult to see who would be an adequate replacement for Turnbull.
“The logical choice is his parliamentary secretary, Paul Fletcher. The former Optus executive has all the credentials, and is across the portfolio. He has a very different style to Turnbull, however.
“There’s also the major policy stuff-up he had prior to the election where he announced, unbeknownst to Turnbull, that the Coalition was planning an opt-out internet filtering policy. Turnbull quickly put a stop to that in a matter of hours.
“But perhaps he has redeemed himself now, and it is hard to see anyone else with the same capacity in the Coalition filling that role.
“We would hope that he will push back against Attorney-General George Brandis’ plans for telcos with piracy and data retention as much as Turnbull has, albeit unsuccessfully.”
Update: Treasurer Joe Hockey has now been floated as a possible candidate for the Communications portfolio.