Public service reshuffle good for business: PVCA

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The PVCA has applauded Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s move to cut four government departments, saying it will cut red tape and help small business.

Vitally important: Andrew Macaulay
Vitally important: Andrew Macaulay

Under the reshuffle announced on Thursday, the employment and education departments will merge; energy will be uncoupled from environment and merged with industry, innovation and science, while environment will merge with agriculture; and communications and arts will join infrastructure and transport. Emissions will remain within the energy portfolio.

Andrew Macaulay, CEO PVCA, told Print21 that the reorganisation is good news for business.

“This is essentially about harmonising service delivery, removing conflicting silos, and cutting red tape. It is a very positive and timely reform. PVCA commends the PM for responding to industry recommendations, and moving away from some of the ideological but illogical structures inherited from his predecessor,” he said.

According to Macaulay, the mergers of Education and Employment, and of Energy with Industry, Innovation and Science, are particularly promising.

“Employment is intrinsically linked with VET, TAFE and post-school training. Thus, by creating a single department, this would allow better planning; better alignment of various curricula; and the creation of a pipeline of school-leavers and job-seekers into trade and industry.

“Also, high-energy needs of trade and manufacturing should be considered under the Industry portfolio. PVCA would expect to see some movement in the space of affordable stable energy following this change,” he said, adding that the merger of communications with infrastructure and transport would be good for the NBN rollout.

Announcing the restructure, PM Morrison said it would make the public service more streamlined and efficient.

“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,” he said.

Labor, however, has slammed the move, with Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese calling it an attempt to centralise power.

“That’s what the Prime Minister is into. And we’ve seen that writ large, on the floor of the House of Representatives. We’ve seen it with the removal of five departmental secretaries. We’ve seen it in the way in which he hasn’t allowed for any debate whatsoever.”

Albanese added that the Coalition had continually cut public services since it came to power in 2013.

“If you, for example, have an issue on the environment put together in the way that it is with agriculture, there are real issues behind the centralisation that has occurred as a result of these changes,” he said.

Shadow Public Services Minister Katy Gallagher also condemned the decision, saying the PM had refused to rule out resulting job cuts at the public service.

“It is also clear the abolition of the departments occurred without seeking advice from some of the departments involved about the effect of the changes on government efficiency and the quality of its services.
“Fewer jobs in the public service mean fewer services for Australians. Simply sacking people and changing the titles of some departments will not deal with the big challenges facing the public service,” she said.

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