Department of Communications abolished
The federal government has revealed plans to abolish the Department of Communications and the Arts as part of a major portfolio reshuffle.
The department will be folded into the current Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development to create the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.
Meanwhile, the Department of Education and the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business will be combined to create the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.
But the small business functions of the latter department will be merged with the current Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, as well as the energy functions from the current Department of the Environment and Energy, to create the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.
The remaining environmental functions of the Department of the Environment and Energy will be merged with the Department of Agriculture to form the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.
Finally, Services Australia — formerly the Department of Human Services — will be established as a new executive agency within the Social Services Department.
These changes will take effect from February next year, and will reduce the number of government departments from 18 to 14.
The decision will result in the retrenchment of five departmental secretaries — Kerri Hartland, Renée Leon, Mike Mrdak, Daryl Quinlivan and Dr Heather Smith.
Announcing the structural changes, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the reshuffle is part of the government’s goal of making government services more accessible for Australians.
“The new structures that I’m announcing ... will drive greater collaboration. 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,” he said.
“It means better integration in key areas like education and skills and the delivery of regional services.”
But the decision has prompted major expressions of concern over the implications for areas including the environment and Australia’s $111 billion arts industry.
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