Cabinet secretary back to PMO, but bureaucrat rumours abound

By Harley Dennett

January 18, 2017

A political staffer will replace Senator Arthur Sinodinos as the new cabinet secretary, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull revealed Wednesday morning.

Initial confusion among journalists led to incorrect reports the role was to return to a bureaucrat in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The practice is common in other Westminster-like democracies, and especially associated with the United Kingdom where the cabinet secretary is also the head of the civil service.

The move was required to free up a lower house MP to replace Health Minister Sussan Ley. Current Industry minister Greg Hunt will take that role, and while the Senator will move to Industry.

The PM’s statement says cabinet secretary’s role return to the PMO is in line with past practice:

“As Cabinet Secretary, Arthur restored traditional cabinet processes. That being done, he can now turn his talents to a front line portfolio and the Cabinet Secretary function can return to the Prime Minister’s Office as has been the practice of Coalition Governments.

“This will reduce the size of the Cabinet by one.

“The Special Minister of State, Senator Scott Ryan, will continue to support the work of the Cabinet as ‘Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cabinet’.”

The new arrangements will take effect after a swearing in on Tuesday.

Photo: Outgoing cabinet secretary Arthur Sinodinos at the PM’s awards for public administration excellence, hosted by IPAA ACT.

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