Cyber security and digital transformation ministries scrapped

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Cyber security and digital transformation ministries scrapped

Roles deleted from ScoMo's new-look cabinet.

Australia is without a dedicated Cyber Security Minister for the first time in two years after Prime Minister Scott Morrison removed the role from his first ministerial line-up. 

Changes to the cabinet unveiled by the newly appointed PM on Sunday afternoon deletes any mention of the cyber security remit from the ministry, effectively demoting its importance after it was heavily pushed by Malcolm Turnbull.

The removal of the cyber ministry comes as the government is preparing to introduce controversial legislation to crack down on encrypted communication services, which could require service providers to weaken the security of their services.

The ministerial role - a key action of the national cyber security strategy - was introduced in July 2016, with the appointment of Dan Tehan as Minister Assistant the Prime Minister for Cyber Security.

Later, Angus Taylor assumed the role of Minister of Law Enforcement and Cyber Security in a ministerial and machinery of government reshuffle last December. The shifts followed some of the biggest changes to government IT in recent memory through a restructure of the Digital Transformation Agency.

It elevated cyber security responsibility from its assistant minster roots and coincided with cyber policy moving from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to the Department of Home Affairs. 

However, while cyber security is no longer specifically mentioned in any minister’s title, Morrison suggested responsibility would broadly fall under the remit of Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

“Minister Dutton, as the Minister for Home Affairs, will be focusing on everything from cyber security through to law enforcement, border protection, security agencies, and he’ll have his focus more principally on this security tasks,” Morrison said.

The Home Affairs portfolio will also be shared with two new ministers: Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman and Assistant Minister for Home Affairs Linda Reynolds.

However there was no specific mention of either of these ministers being handed responsibility for cyber security.

Elsewhere in the cabinet reshuffle, Michael Keenan has retained his oversight of the government’s digital transformation agenda as Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation.

But it represents a promotion for the digital transformation portfolio, which has been elevated from the level of assistant minister and further aligned with the Human Services portfolio.

The last remaining mention of innovation  - which was championed by the former PM - has also been culled from the ministry, with Karen Andrews appointed the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology instead of Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science.

Finance minister Mathias Cormann will pick up new responsibility for for the public service, while Christopher Pyne will replace Marise Payne as Minister for Defence

Mitch Fifield will continue as Communications Minister after briefly resigning last week.

Update 11:25am: A statement from Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton confirms he will assume Angus Taylor's cyber security and critical infrastructure responsibilities.

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