Victorian Public Service to be ‘fast and agile’ under new Crisis Council of Cabinet

By Shannon Jenkins

Monday April 6, 2020

Most public servants spent years playing around the edges with technology. (Adobe/Jason Bennee)

Departmental secretaries from across the Victorian Public Service will appoint associate secretaries to run their departments so they can better focus on the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The state has so far recorded a total of 1135 cases of coronavirus.

Premier Daniel Andrews on Friday announced the establishment of a Crisis Council of Cabinet (CCC), to be the state government’s central decision-making hub for all matters related to COVID-19, such as implementing National Cabinet decisions.

Andrews will chair the CCC, and will be joined by education minister James Merlino, treasurer Tim Pallas, transport minister Jacinta Allan, health minister Jenny Mikakos, justice minister Jill Hennessy, jobs minister Martin Pakula, and police minister Lisa Neville.

They have been sworn-in with new portfolios which will allow for them to lead COVID-19 response activities in their respective departments. The ministers’ new portfolios include:

  • Merlino: Minister for the Coordination of Education and Training – COVID-19
  • Pallas: Minister for the Coordination of Treasury and Finance – COVID-19
  • Allan: Minister for the Coordination of Transport – COVID-19
  • Mikakos: Minister for the Coordination of Health and Human Services – COVID-19
  • Hennessy: Minister for the Coordination of Justice and Community Safety – COVID-19
  • Pakula: Minister for the Coordination of Jobs, Precincts and Regions – COVID-19
  • Neville: Minister for the Coordination of Environment, Land, Water and Planning – COVID-19

Andrews said the senior levels of the VPS would be structured to align with the new portfolios, and would “focus on eight core missions that will help us respond appropriately and effectively to the coronavirus emergency”.

Associate secretaries would be appointed to run the regular administration of departments, allowing departmental secretaries to lead pandemic response teams.

Andrews said the measures would allow the state government and the public service to be “as fast and agile as possible”.

“As a government, it is our job to respond to this health emergency now to keep Victorians safe, and then ensure our state is best placed to recover and rebuild when we get to the other side of this crisis,” he said.

The CCC will operate until September 30, at which point it will be reviewed. The full Cabinet will continue to meet each week to manage the general business of government.

Read more: COVID-19: Vic prepares for ‘worst case scenario’ with $1.3b health sector boost

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