One of the first, and possibly hardest tasks, ahead for new – or should we say “renewed” – Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd will be his choice of Communications, Broadband and Digital Economy Minister.
The big question, following Rudd’s return to the prime ministership is: can he persuade Stephen Conroy to stay onside?
Conroy, who last night confirmed his decision to resign as CBDE minister in the wake of Julia Gillard’s defeat as Labor leader, is plainly the only member of the Labor caucus with a formidable grip on the National Broadband Network (NBN).
And as one of the strongest supporters of Gillard, he immediately announced his plan to resign, following the extraordinary scenes that saw Kevin Rudd resume the leadership.
On the NBN, Rudd has almost nowhere else to turn. Conroy – who, let it be remembered, worked with Rudd to construct the original plan to launch the NBN – is the only Cabinet member with the knowledge to continue pushing the original vision through, should Labor retain power.
ACT Senator Kate Lundy has always coveted the position, and has good knowledge of the ITC world, but is seen to lack the pugnacious nature of Conroy, who used to pour unremitting scorn on Coalition positions.
Well before the latest ballot, Kevin Rudd announced that, should he win, there would be no recriminations, no payback. Could a palm branch be coming Stephen Conroy’s way – and if so would Conroy be willing to grasp it?