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Thursday, 18 November 1976


Mr MALCOLM FRASER - As a result of a decision by the Cabinet this afternoon, Sir Frederick Wheeler is to be recommended for appointment as Secretary to the Department of the Treasury. I explain that situation by indicating that the Public Service Board has advised that the easiest way to encompass this is, at the appropriate time, by abolition of the Department and the creation of a new Department of the Treasury. That is the only reason why that recommendation comes forward again. Mr R. W. Cole, presently the Australian Statistician, is to be recommended for appointment as Secretary to the Department of Finance. The President of the Executive Council has indicated his agreement to the announcement of these recommendations in this form. My colleague, the Treasurer (Mr Lynch), will have ministerial responsibility for the new Department of Finance. As Treasurer, he will also retain responsibility for the Department of the Treasury. This will help to ensure proper co-ordination of the activities of both departments. The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Viner) will be an additional Minister Assisting the Treasurer. Formal action will be taken to give effect to these changes within a short period.

In association with those changed administrative arrangements, there will be a strengthening of the existing resources available to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet for the evaluation of the effectiveness of Government programs. Regular evaluations will be undertaken of major sectors of Government services. Where appropriate these evaluations will be followed by detailed reviews and the development of modified or new programs. The Government has also taken steps to develop further already established capacity within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to advise the Government on forward programming, priority setting and the strategic planning of Government initiatives. The intensified policy and program assessments which will thus be possible will be closely associated with accelerated development of the forward estimates system. The closest coordination will be maintained between relevant areas of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Departments of the Treasury and Finance. The Government is convinced that the new arrangements will assist it materially in dealing effectively with the major issues which currently face Australia. Careful consideration has been given to the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration headed by Dr Coombs, to the work of consultants which reported to the Royal Commission on relevant aspects and in particular to the report of the Royal Commission's Task Force on Economic Policy


Mr Hurford - Why did you ignore them?


Mr MALCOLM FRASER -The honourable gentleman obviously has not read the report of the Task Force on Economic Policy. In deciding the nature of the new arrangements, the Government has been aware of the differing expert views which found expression through the Royal Commission regarding the appropriate central administrative machinery which should be developed. The Government's decisions also reflect the outcome of its consideration of the reports of the Administrative Review Committee, which emphasised the importance of improved financial and program planning and control. The range of approaches to improving the organisation of the Government's administrative resources which these various reports have canvassed has been of great value in helping to stimulate and clarify thinking in this respect.







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