Michelle Rowland charged with communications portfolio in new Labor ministry

Yesterday evening, the leader of the Labor party and newly minted Prime Minister of Australia Anthony Albanese unveiled his new ministry, assigning former shadow communications minister Michelle Rowland to the communications portfolio.

Rowland replaces Liberal party frontbencher Paul Fletcher, who served as minister for communications, urban infrastructure, cities and the arts between 2019 and 2022. His appointment in 2019 was welcomed by much of the industry, with Fletcher boasting some notable communications experience, having served as the director of corporate and regulatory affairs at Optus between 2000 and 2007, after four years as a staffer with Howard-era minister of communications, Richard Alston.

Michelle Rowland MP, Minister for Communications

It is the first ministry in government for Rowland, who comes to the role having spent much of the last decade as shadow minister for communications. Prior to her time in politics, Rowland had a career as a senior lawyer specialising in competition and regulation in the telecommunications, media and technology sectors, and also spent time as chair of Screen NSW in 2009 to 2010.

Under the Labor government the communications portfolio has been separated from the urban infrastructure, cities and arts portfolios, which have been redistributed into the infrastructure, transport, regional development and local government portfolio, held by Catherine King and an arts portfolio, held by Tony Bourke, who is also leader of the house and minister for employment and workplace relations.

As minister for communications, Rowland will be responsible for delivering the government’s election promises on funding for the ABC, with the Labor party’s election campaign committing to five year funding terms for the public broadcaster, as well as reversing the Coalition’s cut of $83.7 million to the ABC.

The industry has welcomed Rowland’s appointment, pointing to her experience in the portfolio domain.

CEO of Commercial Radio Australia, Ford Ennals, congratulated the new minister on her role, saying: “This is an excellent appointment. Minister Rowland has deep media expertise and the radio industry welcomes her stated commitment to bringing Australia’s media laws into the digital age.

“We will be looking to meet with the Minister soon to discuss a broad range of policy issues, foremost of those will be how to ensure listeners can continue to have free and easy access to radio on new devices such as smart speakers and connected cars without undue interference from tech gatekeepers.”

Albanese’s new ministry is being sworn in at Government House this morning.


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