Drama In Aussie Politics Sees Peter Garrett Quit, New Communications Minister Appointed

Peter Garrett

In a wild and dramatic five days of politics Down Under, Australia has a new minister for communications, its culture minister has added another portfolio and Peter Garrett – the former frontman of Midnight Oil who became a prominent Labor Party frontbencher – has quit politics for good.

Today’s cabinet reshuffle follows a raft of high-profile departures and retirements, all off which stem from an historic leadership spill last Wednesday which saw Kevin Rudd return to the prime minister’s job – at the expense of the incumbent Julia Gillard.

The fall-out continues with culture minister Tony Burke adding the challenging portfolio of immigration. Burke was parachuted into the culture job in March, replacing Simon Crean, who has now announced his retirement from politics. The arts minister is expected to maintain close contact with the music industry, though with the addition of these responsibilities, he'll be an extremely busy man.

In another key change, deputy prime minister Anthony Albanese adds responsibilities as minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. Albanese replaces Stephen Conroy, who vacated the role last week following Rudd's victory in the Labor leadership ballot.

Albanese’s department has responsibility for overseeing the multi-billion-dollar National Broadband Network and last week pledged $6 million in funding over three years to ensure a future for the community radio community.

This new funding, explained Conroy at the time, would help community radio stations in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth to “continue broadcasting, upgrade their equipment and improve their digital radio services.”

Chris Johnson, manager of the Australian Music Radio Airplay Project (Amrap), declared the funding “a major win for Australia's radio and music sectors,” and one that rectifies a shortfall in the 2012 Federal Budget. 

Australian politics loses its best-know face from the rock ‘n’ roll fraternity – Peter Garrett. The former Midnight Oil frontman had served as a Cabinet minister for six years, but quit last week following Gillard’s leadership defeat.

Garrett hasn’t stepped away from the spotlight altogether. Over the weekend, he served as MC for the state funeral for the late Yothu Yindi frontman Mandawuy Yunupingu.

There’s still a chance that Garrett will return to the stage with his legendary band. In an April interview with Billboard, he said a Midnight Oil comeback was “not out of the question.”