Text size: A A A

Qld Premier vows minimal change, ‘return to Westminster’

New Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk promises her shake-up of the bureaucracy will be as painless as possible, as directors-general worry about the “merit-based” appointment process that could leave them out of a job.

Palaszczuk sent an email to the public service on Wednesday vowing “we will do everything we can to keep changes to a minimum”. And she said she’ll reverse changes made by former Campbell Newman’s government to workplace conditions.

The Premier cut her front bench from 19 ministers to 14 as a cost saving to taxpayers. The number of departments won’t be reduced, but portfolios and responsibilities have been shaken up.

Palaszczuk said the new government has “the highest regard for the professionalism and independence of the Queensland public service”:

2015-02-20_15-45-55

“That is why I have committed to restoring fairness for public servants and ensuring that the proper conditions exist for them to provide frank and fearless advice to government.

“As part of this commitment, we will return to a Westminster-style model that values and supports a permanent public service.

“We will also reinstate those conditions for public servants that were removed by the previous government, particularly in relation to employment security, contracting-out and organisational change provisions.”

The Premier has vowed there would be no “night of the long knives” among top mandarins, but department directors-general must reapply for jobs and will only be reappointed on merit.

The Mandarin understands bosses are still unsure how this process will work. As one insider pointed out, some directors-general have already been through a “full, nationally advertised and open process” and they wonder if it would be a “once-size-fits-all process”.

The Mandarin has repeatedly sought comment from the Premier’s office but has been unsuccessful.

Among the machinery of government changes:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships (formerly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs) — loses Multicultural Affairs;
  • Agriculture and Fisheries (formerly Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry);
  • Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services — gains Multicultural Affairs;
  • Education and Training (formerly Education, Training and Employment) — loses responsibility for employment policies and programs;
  • Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning (formerly Local Government, Community Recovery and Resilience);
  • National Parks, Sport and Racing (formerly National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing);
  • Premier and Cabinet — gains Arts Queensland and the Corporate Administration Agency;
  • Queensland Treasury (formerly Queensland Treasury and Trade) — gains responsibility for employment policies and programs and responsibility for public sector industrial relations;
  • Science, Information Technology and Innovation (formerly Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts) — loses Arts Queensland and the Corporate Administration Agency;
  • State Development (formerly State Development, Infrastructure and Planning) — loses responsibility for infrastructure and planning;
  • Public Service Commission — loses responsibility for public sector industrial relations.

There are no changes to the departments of Energy and Water Supply, Environment and Heritage Protection, Housing and Public Works, Justice and Attorney-General, Natural Resources and Mines, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, Queensland Health, Queensland Police Service, Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games, and Transport and Main Roads. However, the government is considering a restructure of Justice and Attorney-General’s at a later date.

More at The Mandarin: D-Gs ‘on notice’: Queensland’s public service shake-up

Author Bio

Jason Whittaker

Jason Whittaker is managing editor of The Mandarin based in Melbourne. He has written for and edited political, business and culture publications for a decade. He spent two years as editor of sister Private Media publication Crikey.