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Turnbull’s new administrative arrangements

Piece by piece we’re seeing a clearer picture of the priorities of the new federal Turnbull government. Yesterday the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet published the full administrative arrangements order for the machinery of government changes to match Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s frontbench overhaul.

Three departments get new names to match their ministers’ titles:

  • Department of Agriculture becomes Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR).
  • Department of Industry and Science becomes Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS).
  • Department of Communications becomes Department of Communications and the Arts (DCA).

Beyond those three portfolio expansions, there were several other notable shifts in departmental responsibilities.

The Attorney General’s Department loses carriage of censorship (now renamed as classification) and copyright, which along with cultural affairs are moving to Communications and Arts.

As announced in Turnbull’s speech on Sunday, coordination of early childhood development and childcare policy and programs are moving from the Department of Social Services to the Department of Education and Training.

The Department of the Environment, while losing water policy, is picking up renewable energy technology from Industry, Innovation and Science.

In turn, Industry, Innovation and Science regains responsibility for digital economy policy, which first emerged as part of Industry in the 1990s before it was put together with communications and broadband in the first Rudd administration. That change moves 18 positions from DCA into DIIS as soon as possible, according to a source who’s close to the action.

Gov 2.0 makes a big return, leaving the Department of Finance and moving to Prime Minister and Cabinet along with open data. As expected, PM&C also picks up another of Turnbull’s favourite projects: whole-of-government service delivery policy, which is to be implemented by the Digital Transformation Office.

Staff at the Department of Communications and the Arts are hearing that the digital productivity division led by first assistant secretary Marianne Cullen is being disbanded, although no jobs will be terminated in the process.

According to a source inside DCA, 24 positions are moving into PM&C with the transfer of data policy and e-government functions from Turnbull’s former fiefdom. The market analysis team is staying in the department, although it is not yet certain where it will sit, and word is the international section will move to a different division. The transfer of the Arts from the Attorney-General’s Department will bring about 120 positions into DCA, we’re told.

A spokesperson for DCA did not correct those claims, and told The Mandarin:

“The Department is working with partner agencies to determine the specific detail of these changes such as policy responsibilities and any staffing movements as quickly as possible.”

Author Bio

Harley Dennett

Harley Dennett is editor at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's held communications roles in the New South Wales public sector and Defence, and been a staff reporter for newspapers in Sydney and Washington DC.