Coonan retains IT portfolio in Cabinet reshuffle

Australian senator Helen Coonan has retained the Communications, Information Technology and Arts portfolio in a Cabinet reshuffle announced by the Prime Minister John Howard this week.

As well as retaining the IT portfolio, Coonan was promoted to the role of deputy leader of the Senate under Finance Minister Nick Minchin.

This makes Coonan part of the government’s leadership team in the parliament.

Coonan will also be working closely with the new Special Minister of State, Gary Nairn, who has replaced Eric Abetz.

As part of his new appointment, Nairn will oversee technology spending and government procurement strategies.

Australian Computer Society (ACS) president Philip Argy welcomed the reshuffle claiming Coonan was an “impressive and conscientious representative for the IT industry with a genuine feel for the portfolio.

“Compared to her predecessors, Coonan is impressive,” Argy said.

“She has a good rapport with industry and is a pleasure to deal with; it is hard to fault the outcome from an ACS point of view.

“Coonan has been outstanding in supporting policy objectives we have promoted; we want to encourage her.”

Coonan was first appointed to Cabinet in July 2004 and has prepared the groundwork for the government’s sale of its remaining 51.8 percent share in Telstra.

Minchin is due to make recommendations to Cabinet in March to proceed with the sale which is expected to generate about A$26 billion (US$19.6 billion) for the government.

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