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Govt forms new Human Services ministry -

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Govt forms new Human Services ministry

AM - Friday, 22 October , 2004 08:08:00

Reporter: Louise Yaxley

TONY EASTLEY: For the Government's part, there's been little trouble with the distribution of
portfolios. The Prime Minister has created a new super ministry with a massive budget responsible
for Medicare payments, welfare benefits, including the troubled family payments system.

It's expected the New South Wales Liberal, Joe Hockey, will be appointed to run the huge new
department when the Prime Minister announces his new front bench this morning. It's the biggest
change he'll make in his fourth term ministry.

Louise Yaxley reports.

LOUISE YAXLEY: Problems with the Family Payments system have dogged the Government as tens of
thousands of families have complained about debts to Centrelink. It will now be up to Joe Hockey to
solve that problem.

He will be appointed "Minister for Human Services" which is described as the service delivery arm
of the Government.

That means Medicare payments, unemployment benefits, aged pensions and all other welfare benefits
will be delivered in a new system, creating an administrative split between the policy arm of
departments and the practical payments side.

It's a high profile position for Mr Hockey, who was previously tourism minister. But he wouldn't be
entering the Cabinet.

The shake-up means a major administrative change in the public service. Unions are waiting to find
out more

Adrian O'Connell is of the head of the Community and Public Sector Union

ADRIAN O'CONNELL: We haven't seen the details so we'll obviously be looking to talk to the
Government about what the new ministry would look like. But if based on media reports, if the
ministry's been created to help provide for a more efficient delivery of government services, then
one of the key elements for that will be to make sure that it is adequately resourced so that
quality services can be given to the Australian community.

One of the difficulties previously has been that agencies such as Centrelink, which have a critical
role in government service delivery, haven't been resourced adequately, so we'd hope that that
issue will be addressed in the creation of this new super ministry.

LOUISE YAXLEY: So you'll be calling for more staff?

ADRIAN O'CONNELL: We'll be calling for more resources and staff adequate to the job that needs to
be done.

LOUISE YAXLEY: Mr Howard's new ministry will be confirmed today. The other significant change is
that Gary Hargreaves from Queensland, will be in charge of the system of technical colleges that
was promised during the election campaign.

But the shake-up is limited - Mr Howard's most experienced Ministers will stay in their portfolios
including Peter Costello as Treasurer and Alexander Downer as Foreign Minister.

Its understood that having made significant changes in July, when he appointed the New South Wales
liberal senator Helen Coonan to the sensitive Communications portfolio and Ian Campbell to the
environment job, the Prime Minister didn't want to make big changes just months later.

TONY EASTLEY: Louise Yaxley reporting there from Canberra.

(c) 2006 ABC