Victorian senator Mitch Fifield has been appointed as Communications Minister following Malcolm Turnbull’s re-shuffle of his ministry over the weekend.
Fifield replaces Turnbull himself and will also be responsible for the roll out of the NBN and also takes over the arts portfolio and will assist the PM for digital government too. Fifield was previously assistant minister for social services.
Fifield has been a senator since 2004 and previously worked as a political adviser at both the state and federal levels. He is widely regarded as being quite digitally savvy and his appointment is widely seen as Turnbull’s commitment to running a more technical astute government.
Internet Australia boss Laurie Patton welcomed Fifleld’s elevation to the communications portfolio.
In statement Mr Patton said: “Hopefully, having a Communications Minister with a ‘tech savvy’ Prime Minister will see things change and there’ll be a greater focus on digital innovation.”
Patton also urged the new minister to re-assess data retention and website blocking laws that were passed under Tony Abbott.
“The Data Retention Act urgently requires attention. It is timed to commence on October 13th and yet many ISP’s are still struggling to understand their obligations under this legislation we say is fundamentally flawed.
“We still have no idea how the funding allocated to this initiative will be distributed. In any case, it is well short of the likely actual operating costs which means Internet consumers will be hit with increased user fees.
“There is clear evidence that the best way to eliminate ‘piracy’ is for the rights holders to make their content available timely and at a reasonable cost to consumers. Site blocking is a very blunt weapon that has the potential to damage the way the Internet operates,” he said.