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The new ministry

16 September 2013

As widely expected, Christopher Pyne, the Liberals’ education spokesperson in opposition, is to be appointed education minister in the incoming Coalition government and presumably will take carriage for higher education as well as schools education.  Sussan Ley is to be appointed the assistant minister for education and  Scott Ryan is to be appointed parliamentary secretary to Pyne . Former shadow spokesperson for universities and research, Senator Brett Mason, is to be appointed as a parliamentary secretary in foreign affairs.

Asked about the allocation of duties within the education portfolio, the prime minister-designate  Tony Abbott said:

Higher education and schools, I think, will largely remain the responsibility of Mr Pyne.  In the end, the division of responsibilities inside the (education) portfolio will be settled by Mr Pyne and myself over the next couple of days.

Ryan “quite possibly” would have responsibility for curriculum and Ley would continue to look after early childhood education and childcare, Abbott said.

The new administrative arrangements bring the education sectors together in the one portfolio for the first time in some years, with a simple, clear title – “education”.   Not only is there the much commented on dearth of women in the government (1 woman in the cabinet as against 6 in the outgoing government), but apparently,  for the first time in 80 years, Australia doesn’t have a specifically designated science minister.

Universities Australia has generally welcomed the arrangements but expressed concern that in such a large and diverse portfolio, higher education policy might get buried.

The Innovative Research Universities group says there are important challenges ahead for the incoming  Coalition government in its first year, including:

  • Whether to implement the previous government’s last minute savings measures to reduce funding per place, turn grants to students from poorer backgrounds into loans, and discourage self funded postgraduate education;
  • Responding effectively to the review of higher education regulation both for the future quality regulation arrangements and rationalising the overlap between regulation for higher education for all students and the particular requirements for international students
  • Carrying through initiatives to simplify the research grants process while retaining a focus on supporting the best ideas across all institutions, based on analysis of the potential outcomes from the project rather than its title
  • Designing long term support for higher education infrastructure to support future teaching and research needs at a time of major changes in delivery and operations
  • Constructing a viable way ahead to assess the impact of university research to demonstrate its value and each university’s contribution
  • Re-invigorating support for Australia’s international student capability, consistent with the Coalition’s strong support for this industry as one of Australia’s economic pillars, including putting in place a new Colombo scheme to encourage thousands of Australian students to study or do work experience in Asia.

The Australian Technology Network stressed the need to recognise and support the important roles played by universities in supporting a stronger economy and society through skills development, research and the fostering of innovation. The international dimension of that contribution is particularly important, as reflected for example in the government’s proposals for the New Colombo Plan.

The Regional Universities Network urged the government not to further cut funding to universities or student support, and to retain the student demand driven system which is integral to lifting higher education participation in regional Australia.    It particularly welcomed the appointment of Warren Truss, Nationals leader and deputy prime minister in the incoming government, as minister for regional development. will provide a great opportunity for a new approach to the issue.

RUN is a strong advocate of putting regional universities at the centre of facilitating and strengthening regional economic development.  RUN is keen to explain its policies outlined in Smarter Regions, Smarter Australia to the new Ministers. Our priorities are putting regional universities at the centre of regional development, implementing policies to attract domestic and international students to regional universities, and building research capacity in strategic areas.

Ahead of the actual announcement, TAFE Directors Australia (TDA) joined with the group training network in congratulating the Coalition on its election win and urging that skills and training be afforded a high priority under a Coalition government.  The policy challenges include poor apprentice completion rates, duplication of apprentice support services, cuts to employer incentives, government investment in VET, Commonwealth/State relations, and a National Entitlement to Training which was agreed by the Commonwealth without financial modelling and quality criteria.

Cabinet – 19 members

Cabinet – 19 members

Tony Abbott (NSW) – Prime Minister

Warren Truss (Qld) – Deputy Prime Minister; Infrastructure and Regional Development, Leader of the Nationals

Julie Bishop (WA) – Foreign Affairs; Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party

Eric Abetz (Tas) – Employment; assisting the Prime Minister on the Public Service; Leader of the Government in the Senate

George Brandis (Qld)- Attorney-General; Arts; Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate

Joe Hockey (NSW) – Treasurer

Barnaby Joyce (NSW) – Agriculture

Christopher Pyne (SA) – Education; Leader of the House

Nigel Scullion (NT) – Indigenous Affairs

Ian Macfarlane (Qld) – Industry

Kevin Andrews (Vic) – Social Services

Malcolm Turnbull (NSW) – Communications

Peter Dutton (Qld) – Health; Sport’

Bruce Billson (Vic) – Small Business

Andrew Robb (Vic) – Trade and Investment

David Johnston (WA) – Defence

Greg Hunt (Vic) – Environment

Scott Morrison (NSW) – Immigration and Border Protection

Mathias Cormann (WA) – Finance

 Outer ministry – 11 members

Mitch Fifield – Assistant Minister for Social Services; Manager of Government Business in the Senate

Luke Hartsuyker – Assistant Minister for Employment; Deputy Leader of the House

Fiona Nash – Assistant Minister for Health; Deputy Leader of the Nationals in the Senate

Michael Ronaldson – Veterans’ Affairs; Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC; Special Minister of State

Sussan Ley – Assistant Minister for Education

Marise Payne – Human Services

Michael Keenan – Justice

Stuart Robert – Assistant Minister for Defence

Michaelia Cash – Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection; Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women

Jamie Briggs – Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development

Arthur Sinodinos – Assistant Treasurer

Parliamentary secretaries – 12 members

Richard Colbeck – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture

Bob Baldwin – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry

Brett Mason – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs

Steven Ciobo – Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer

Concetta Fierravanti-Wells – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Services

Simon Birmingham – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment

Scott Ryan – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education

Darren Chester – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence

Paul Fletcher – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications

Josh Frydenberg – Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Alan Tudge – Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minster

Michael McCormack – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance

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