Sep 19, 2013

Public service changes make sense, but there’s a risk for PM&C

The government has changed the shape of the public service. Governance expert Stephen Bartos argues this mostly makes sense, but PM&C taking on indigenous affairs could backfire.

Tony Abbott's cabinet

The Administrative Arrangements Order is one of the dullest but most important government documents. It lists departments, the matters they deal with and the legislation they administer. It may appear as a long, boring list, but it has huge consequences for staffing, location and leadership. The AAO issued by the new government yesterday changes the machinery of government in some important ways.

Bringing tertiary education back into the Education Department is a sensible move, allowing better policy development over the whole of education. But leaving vocational education behind in the Industry Department leaves that function as an outlier which may lose focus and direction. This could be the intention, if the long-term goal is for VET to be left entirely to the states and territories, but makes for an uncertain period ahead. Industry itself will have more than enough to worry about — it has the largest span of responsibilities of any department, a full A4 page.

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11 thoughts on “Public service changes make sense, but there’s a risk for PM&C

  1. Fiona Brooke

    What I found interesting in reading through the Administrative Arrangements was that there is no mention of responsibility for the Living Longer, Living Better legislation.

  2. Griffiths Karen

    abbott has taken on ‘Women’s Affairs’ portfolio – is this pure irony, hilarity, or does abbott think it will help him stop women having affairs?

  3. Gavin Moodie

    Curiously, while vocational education is now in industry, vocational education in schools stays in education. This may make it easier to split vocational education for young people from other vocational education, and thus to increase its value to young people.

  4. Steve Gardner

    “What matters is what gets done,” not the symbolism of departmental naming. Very well, let us judge the Liberals by their science policy.

    Apart from a commitment to spend $200M on research into dementia and Alzheimers, and $42M expanding the Institute for Tropical Medicine at James Cook University, the Liberals have no science policy.

    See for yourself: http://www.liberal.org.au/our-policies

  5. shepherdmarilyn

    Ian McFArlane achieved precisely zero in Abbott’s time and it was P M & C in Howard’s time who didn’t notice dozens of cables stating that AWB were stealing $300 million from the Iraqi people and giving it to Saddam Hussein.

  6. Kerry Lovering

    if Token woman Julie Bishop has AusAid, will she ensure that family planning for overseas women is continued–She must make sure that the old Harradine policy is properly buried.

  7. Truthseeker

    It hasn’t worked with Peta

  8. Serenatopia

    Seriously Bartos? Ohhh stop all ya complainin Science has moved to Industry where it rightfully belongs! Wrong Bartos—Wrong!

  9. Brendan Jones

    AusAID’s funding of Transparency International needs to be scruitinised. There is evidence that TI downplayed Commonwealth corruption under Labor, and that their Defence Anti-corruption survey was rigged. The anonymous assessment for that survey (TI still won’t reveal who did it) is interesting because it harps on about praise for AusAID. These allegations were put to TI who have failed to explain to them, although shortly afterwards their “Integrity in Government” forum which was to host the A-G and Shadow A-G was abruptly cancelled. Most curious…

  10. bluepoppy

    Climate Change was part of PM&C for a time before it moved into it’s own premises and became a portfolio in its own right. This was to reflect early on the ALP’s greatest moral challenge of our time stance and reflected the level of commitment.

    I don’t agree there is necessarily a lack of experience with implementation at PM&C, many public servants from hands-on agencies do a stint with PM&C because it looks good on a resume, and thus bring that experience with them in policy making. PM&C, as well as supporting the PMO, acts to provide direction, oversight and works in consultation with other agencies.

    Is the removal of indigenous affairs to PM&C a sign of the importance Tony Abbott places on this area? I suspect it is more a sign of major changes to come that may warrant control over the process. Whether that change will be positive or negative is not yet known.

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