Rudd in, Gillard out, Conroy quits cabinet

Which begs the question: Who's going to champion the NBN now?

Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, has stepped down from cabinet following the change in Labor leadership.

Kevin Rudd defeated Julia Gillard at the Labor leadership ballot, winning the ballot 57- 45 votes.

In addition, Treasurer Wayne Swan, Federal Member for Rankin, Craig Emerson, and Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Joe Ludwig are said to have quit as well.

The Labor Government has announced that finance minister, Penny Wong, will step in as the new Labor leader in the Senate.

Prior to Rudd's win, Conroy declared that he would not serve in a new Rudd cabinet and would step down from his roles as Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and leader of the Senate.

Coalition communications spokesman, Malcolm Turnbull, will have been watching all of this with political malarkey with glee, one suspects. He and Conroy famously locked horns over the NBN on many occasions, the most recent one following the Coalition's announcement of an alternate NBN policy last month.

Conroy, for his part, appeared a solid player in his portfolio who stuck to his beliefs gamely. Most recently, at at the recent Digital Productivity Conference in Brisbane, he released an update to the national digital economy strategy, Advancing Australia as a Digital Economy , which laid out the Gillard Government's plan to become a world-leading digital economy by 2020.

“It will not just happen by itself. That’s why the Gillard Government has a plan to make sure we get there,” he said.

Conroy held on to the role of communications minister since Rudd came to power in November 2007. Now the pressing question for the ICT industry is – who’s going to champion the NBN?

It is also still unknown if Rudd will adhere to Gillard's plan of a September 14 election or go earlier.

And, of course, there is also the question of whether he will be allowed to be PM leading into the election or whether the Opposition will move a vote of no-confidence in the government, forcing Rudd to rely on getting votes from at least of the seven independents.

The permutations if he doesn't include Opposition leader, Tony Abbott,a s a caretaker prime min ister until the election.

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