Commonwealth cuts departments, creates larger ones

Image shows Australia's Parliament House at dusk.

The Morrison Government says merging the Department of Communications and the Arts into the current Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development will result in improved communications and regional services for people outside metropolitan areas.

The public service restructure will trim the number of departments to 14 from 18, while 10 departments will be unchanged when the new measures take effect on 1 February 2020.

“The new structures that I’m announcing today will drive greater collaboration,” Prime Minister Morrison said on 5 December.

“It will break down the silos. It’ll ensure that important policy challenges in which different parts of the public service are working on, can work more effectively on together.

“It means better integration in key areas like education and skills and the delivery of regional services.”

There will be four new departments:

A new Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications following the addition of the current Department of Communications and the Arts into the existing Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development.

“This will ensure, particularly in the area of communications, you’re getting a strong synergy between what’s happening in communications policies, communications, infrastructure delivery and regional Australia,” the Prime Minister told journalists.

“I want to ensure that the remote and regional parts of our country are connected.

“I want to ensure that our regional towns and communities are plugged in and are locked in to the prosperity that can be achieved and will be achieved in our economy in the years to come.

“Infrastructure, communications, they are the same thing these days.”

The other three departments are:

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment which consolidates the current Department of Education and Department of Employment Skills, Small and Family Business;

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment which consolidates the current Department of Agriculture; and environment functions from the current Department of the Environment and Energy;

And the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, which will consolidate the current Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and energy functions from the current Department of the Environment and Energy;

Services Australia (formerly the Department of Human Services) will be established as a new Executive Agency, within the Social Services Department.

The remit of the North Queensland Livestock Industry Recovery Agency will be expanded to include drought, and will sit within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Five departmental Secretaries – Kerri Hartland, Renée Leon PSM, Mike Mrdak AO, Daryl Quinlivan and Dr Heather Smith PSM – will lose their jobs, while Andrew Metcalfe AO is returning as a Secretary from a partner role at EY.

The Prime Minister said any job losses were a matter for Secretaries to determine, and added there would not be a ministerial reshuffle.

Image by JJ Harrison, Wikipedia.