Former Assistant Treasurer Helen Coonan has been appointed as the Minister for Communications, IT and the Arts as part of a ministerial reshuffle announced by the PM in Melbourne yesterday.
Coonan is the third IT minister to be appointed by the Howard government in less than a year.
She follows on from Daryl Williams who replaced Richard Alston in September 2003. Coonan is joined by Ian Campbell, former Minister for Territories and Roads, who has been appointed as the new Minister for Environment and Heritage.
The PM, emphasized that the appointments were not a reflection on the previous ministers. "In no way is this announcement a reflection on them or their abilities, the reality is that all of them have indicated that they won't be contesting the next election."
"These changes will maintain the sense of forward looking and continuity of the Government," he said.
However in a release entitled "Coonan's Can Do List", Shadow Minister for Communications, Lindsay Tanner identifies Telstra line rental, massive unexpected phone bills and Australia's broadband ranking in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development) as key challenges for the new minister.
"Labor looks forward to Senator Coonan providing some much needed policy direction."