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Prime Minister Morrison abolishes Department of Communications and Arts as part of public service restructure

Prime Minister Morrison abolishes Department of Communications and Arts as part of public service restructure
December 6, 2019

A major shake-up of Federal Government departments announced yesterday by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will see the abolition of the Department of Communications and Arts and the environment functions from the current Department of Environment and Energy merged into a new Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

The changes, approved by the Governor General this morning and taking effect on 1st February 2020, sees the number of Federal Government departments reduced from 18 to 14 to deliver what Prime Minister Morrison (pictured) calls "efficiency."

Speaking yesterday he explained “Australians should be able to access simple and reliable services, designed around their needs. Having fewer departments will allow us to bust bureaucratic congestion, improve decision-making and ultimately deliver better services for the Australian people.

“The new structure will drive greater collaboration on important policy challenges. For example, better integrating the Government’s education and skills agenda and ensuring Australians living in regional areas can access the infrastructure and services they need.”

The restructure will see the Department of Communications and the Arts rolled into a new 'super department 'called the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.

In addition, the Department of the Environment and Energy's functions will be split between the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

With no change to the 23 ministers in cabinet, the move is a significant change from the principles of cabinet government - the idea that each portfolio has a single champion in cabinet, armed with their department's best advice, allowing cabinet to reach consensus after vigorous debate.

Commenting on the changes in the arts, National Association of the Visual Arts (NAVA) Chief Executive, Esther Anatolitis stated "I think news is shocking and has a detrimental impact on artists who are already feeling the pain of cuts and multiple multi-year funding applications.

"We’re still dealing with the shockwaves of the last years funding cuts ... so when you have an unannounced restructure it contributes to that sense of disarray and confusion."

The New Departments

Department of Education, Skills and Employment - merges Education with Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business
Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment - merges Agriculture with the environment functions from the Environment and Energy
Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources - merges Industry, Innovation and Science with the energy functions from the Environment and Energy and the small business functions from Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business
Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications - merges Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development with Communications and the Arts
Department of Social Services - oversees executive agency Services Australia, formerly the Department of Human Services.

Related Articles

3rd December 2019 - Prime Minister Morrison backs beach safety at start of summer

19th November 2019 - Creative Partnerships Australia survey shows private sector increasing donations to the arts

18th October 2019 - Australia Council’s annual report shows impact of ‘modest investments in arts and creativity’

16th October 2019 - Councils and water industry call for national water focus amid climate change

11th October 2019 - Australia’s Cultural Ministers agree to new framework for the performing arts

18th September 2019 - New report highlights the increased threat of climate change on Australian wildlife

15th September 2019 - Study shows local government behind more than a quarter of Australia’s arts and cultural investment

10th September 2019 - New report highlights the impact of climate change on cricket

6th June 2019 - Tennis Australia commits to United Nations climate change action

26th May 2019 - Prime Minister Scott Morrison names leisure portfolios in new cabinet

6th February 2019 - Climate change set to impact Australia’s summer sporting calendar

26th August 2018 - Prime Minister Morrison announces new tourism and environment ministers

18th March 2017 - Federal Government abolishes Catalyst arts fund: restores funds to Australia Council

27th June 2016 - Climate change a massive threat to global heritage and tourism

29th May 2016 - Australian references removed from UN climate change report over ‘tourism concerns’

7th May 2016 - Great Barrier Reef tourism operators call for action to tackle climate change

3rd May 2016 - Government’s Catalyst arts fund makes allocations on eve of Federal budget

26th November 2015 - Australian Council welcomes part return of NPEA funding

12th November 2015 - Arts Minister Mitch Fifield looks at NPEA revision

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