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Tuesday, 15 September 1987
Page: 43


Mr HAWKE (Prime Minister) —I seek leave to make a statement relating to changes in the structure of the Ministry and the system of government departments.

Leave granted.


Mr HAWKE —Following the recent general election at which the Government was returned for a third term of office, I announced a range of significant changes to the structure of the Ministry and of government departments. The Parliament will shortly consider the legislation which gives effect to or flows from aspects of those changes. For the information of the House, I wish today to outline the overall intent of the changes and their impact, including ways they may be reflected in the operations of the Parliament.

Since our first election in 1983 this Government has consistently developed policies to reconstruct our economy so that it can meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world trading environment. It is not simply a task for our trade-exposed sectors like agriculture, mining or, increasingly, manufacturing and tourism. It is a task for the whole economy, because all sectors can suffer if one is inefficient. In applying measures to deal with the responsible reconstruction of the economy, we are determined to apply the same rigour to the Government's own household.

Honourable members will be aware that early in its life, this Government embarked upon a program of reform of public administration. In pursuing a sound administrative basis for the development of its policies, the Government has addressed fundamental issues and implemented far-reaching reform measures. The reforms were given a legislative basis in the 1984 Public Service reform package, and have been augmented progressively by Budget reforms, the 1986 streamlining measures and, perhaps most importantly, the arrangements I announced in July last.

The Government has been concerned with two basic objectives: to enhance ministerial control over the Public Service and to give to departmental managers more responsibility for day to day management. By establishing mechanisms for greater ministerial control, we have been intent upon increasing the responsiveness of the bureaucracy to the Government's wishes and upon increasing democratic accountability, through Ministers, to Parliament and the community. The second of the objectives, greater responsibility for departmental management, has entailed the devolution of management functions from central agencies to individual departments and a new emphasis on the development of management skills in senior public servants. With greater freedom to manage, departments are in a better position to demonstrate their success in achieving the dual aims of increased efficiency and financial savings.

The Government's previous reform measures have resulted in considerable progress towards the achievement of our objectives. The revamping of Budget processes has given Ministers more direct involvement in the way resources are used within their portfolios. The introduction of program and staff budgeting has allowed the Government to tighten up resource allocation, while giving to Secretaries and other departmental managers greater freedom and responsibility in applying resources to the implementation of Government policies. The major package of measures I announced last year resulted in an important streamlining of personnel management practices.

With this experience behind us, I decided after the Government's re-election to proceed further along the path of administrative reform. The administrative arrangements approved by the Governor-General in Council on 24 July represented perhaps the most far-reaching reshaping of the Federal machinery of government and of public administration in our history. The number of departments has been reduced from 28 to 18, providing scope for savings through economies of scale and the removal of overlap and duplication across many areas of hitherto separate bureaucratic units.

To provide for enhanced ministerial control over the new range of departments, many of which are significantly enlarged, I decided, following receipt of an opinion from the Solicitor-General, that it was time we adopted a two-level ministerial structure and increased the number of Ministers. Under the new arrangements, the burden of administering departments is shared, and portfolio Ministers are released from some detailed administrative work, enabling them to give greater attention to strategic directions of policy and priorities. All portfolios are represented in Cabinet without the need for Cabinet to be expanded to an unmanageable size.

I am pleased to report that these arrangements have been in place now for seven weeks and are working well. Portfolio Ministers are ultimately responsible for the administration of their entire portfolios and will be accountable to the Parliament for the overall operation of their portfolios. All Ministers, however, have a clear accountability within specific responsibilities allocated to them. This accountability includes responding to questions without notice in the Parliament. I announced the allocation of responsibilities on 11 August, but for the information of the House, and as a guide to honourable members in the direction of questions, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a list showing the division of functions.

Leave granted.

The list read as follows-

DIVISION OF RESPONSIBILITIES WITHIN PORTFOLIOS

PRIME MINISTER-(The Hon. R. J. L. Hawke, ac, mp)

Special Minister of State-(Senator the Hon. Susan Ryan)

Assist the Prime Minister in relation to the status of women and the bicentenary, and generally across the portfolio.

Senator Ryan will also assist the Minister for Community Services and Health and have responsibility for:

housing assistance functions, which includes the housing assistance programs of the former Department of Housing and Construction and the Supported Accommodation Assistance program of the former Department of Community Services;

the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse;

the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission;

workforce issues, including the Medical Education Inquiry;

implementation of the Australia Card Program;

biethical issues, including the establishment of advisory structures.

Senator Ryan will also be closely involved in the development of the women's health strategy and will assist Dr Blewett generally in the portfolio.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL-(The Hon. Lionel Bowen, MP)

Minister for Consumer Affairs - (The Hon. Peter Staples, MP)

Responsibility for all consumer affairs matters (including relevant statutory responsibilities under the Trade Practices Act) and representation of the Government on Commonwealth-State ministerial committees related to consumer affairs. Mr Staples also assist the Treasurer in relation to prices.

Parliamentary Secretary for Justice - (Senator the Hon. Michael Tate)

Bankruptcy;

policy and administrative reponsibility for legal aid and financial assistance, including carriage of negotiations with the States on new legal aid agreements (but with the Attorney-General retaining overall responsibility for the negotiations with the States);

remissions of fines and penalties;

prisoners;

marriage celebrants;

policy and police liaison including membership of appropriate Commonwealth-State committees;

Protective Services Coordination Centre;

Territories matters coming within the Attorney-General's portfolio (other than the matters involving the ACT);

Criminology, including youth and crime;

Statute Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bills.

MINISTER FOR INDUSTRY, TECHNOLOGY AND COMMERCE - (Senator the Hon. John Button)

Minister for Science and Small Business - (The Hon. Barry O. Jones, MP)

Science policy and activities including CSIRO and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and the encouragement of effective linkages between the research community and industry;

Policy in relation to small business;

Management and day-to-day decision making in connection with the Customs Service;

Day-to-day administrative matters associated with the building industry.

The two Ministers will work together in such areas as the National Industry Extension Service, the Management Investment Companies program, and policy in relation to the information industries.

MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS - (Senator the Hon. Gareth Evans, QC)

Minister for Land Transport and Infrastructure Support - (The Hon. Peter Duncan, MP)

Land transport policy and programs including road safety;

Operational aviation matters including airport operations, airway systems, flight standards and the Bureau of Air Safety;

General maritime safety matters;

Radio frequency management and broadcasting services;

Support in areas where Senator Evans has prime carriage including broadcasting, telecommunications, postal policy, domestic and international airline policy and major airports projects.

MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION, LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ETHNIC AFFAIRS - (The Hon. Michael J. Young, MP)

Parliamentary Secretary for Local Government - (Senator the Hon. Margaret Reynolds)

Local Government and regional development.

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE - (The Hon. Bill Hayden, MP)

Minister for Trade Negotiations - (The Hon. Michael Duffy, MP)

Day-to-day responsibility for the administration and implementation of Australia's bilateral and multilateral trade policy and negotiations, including relevant Ministerial meetings and diplomatic contacts;

Coordination and conduct of Australia's position in the ``Uruguay Round'' of multilateral trade negotiations-and more generally the promotion of a more equitable international trading environment;

Administration and implementation of the agreement on Closer Economic Relations with New Zealand;

Implementing Australia's relations with UNCTAD;

Responsible for operations of trade related councils involving the Australian business community.

Mr Duffy also assists the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce and the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy in relation to major commodity negotiations and export promotion.

MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT, EDUCATION AND TRAINING - (The Hon. J. S. Dawkins, MP)

Minister for Employment Services and Youth Affairs-(The Hon. A. C. Holding, MP)

Employment and Training - Community Employment Program, including New Enterprise Incentive Scheme, JOBSTART, Mobility Assistance (Relocation Assistance Schemes and Fares Assistance Scheme), existing programs of Industry and Regional Employment Assistance, Community Youth Support Scheme, Community Training Program, including Information Technology Centres, Community Volunteer Program, and Training for Aboriginals Program;

Commonwealth Employment Service-network operations, including responsibilities under Unemployment Benefit and Job Search Allowance arrangements, youth access centres, and job search training;

Education programs and services-national language policy, multicultural education, and Aboriginal education, including National Aboriginal Education Committee.

Mr Holding also assists the Treasurer in a range of matters referred to him, including taxation, foreign investment, loan raising and debt management, and functions of an administrative nature.

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE-(The Hon. Kim C. Beazley, MP)

Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Science and Personnel-(The Hon. Ros Kelly, MP)

Defence Science and Technology, including development of policies and programs for the marketing of products;

Oversight and administration of service personnel policies relating to members and ex-members of the Australian Defence Force and their families;

Defence Housing Authority;

Some categories of Australian Defence Force assistance to the civil community;

Community matters arising from, and in conjunction with, Australian Defence Force operational training activities;

Development of a strategy to ameliorate the difficulties created for Service personnel on postings arising from differing States laws and requirements relating to education, transport etc.

MINISTER FOR PRIMARY INDUSTRIES AND ENERGY-(The Hon. John Kerin, MP)

Minister for Resources-(The Hon. Peter Morris, MP)

Energy programs;

Mineral commodities;

Natural resource management;

Fisheries matters;

Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service;

Bureau of Mineral Resources;

Bureau of Rural Science.

MINISTER FOR ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES-(The Hon. Stewart West, MP)

Minister for Home Affairs-(Senator the Hon. Robert Ray)

Electoral matters;

Parliamentary and ministerial services (including the New Parliament House Executive Wing, the National Media Liaison Service and Ministerial Press Pool)

Information coordination;

National Archives;

Honours and national symbols policy.

MINISTER FOR THE ARTS, SPORT, THE ENVIRONMENT, TOURISM AND TERRITORIES-(The Hon. John Brown, MP)

Minister for the Environment and the Arts-(Senator the Hon. Graham Richardson)

Cultural affairs, including support for the arts, film, national collections and national heritage;

The environment and conservation;

Antarctic matters.

MINISTER FOR COMMUNITY SERVICES AND HEALTH-(The Hon. Neal Blewett, MP)

Minister for Veterans' Affairs-(The Hon. Ben Humphreys, MP)

Administration and policy development of services to veterans. Mr Humphreys will also assist Dr Blewett in day-to-day administration of:

The Home and Community Care program; and

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs-(The Hon. Gerard L. Hand, MP)

Administration of Commonwealth Aboriginal affairs responsibilities. This will include the development of the new Commission to replace the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and the Aboriginal Development Commission. Mr Hand will also assist Dr Blewett in the day-to-day administration of the Childrens Services program.

Within the portfolios not covered in the above list, other Ministers have not been appointed.


Mr HAWKE —I thank the House. Within their areas of responsibility all Ministers will be available to answer questions in the Parliament, and will, of course, take an active role in the legislative process. Within the Parliament, the changes will bring a number of benefits. The combination of the additional Ministers, and of portfolio Ministers having a wider spectrum of responsibility across major sectors of government activity, means the Ministers will be placed in a better position in both chambers to be responsive to the Parliament and its members. This will apply particularly in the Senate where the number of Senate Ministers will have been increased from six to eight, after Parliament enacts the relevant legislation, thus augmenting the capacity of the Government to respond to the concerns before that chamber.

I should add that, in the meantime, pending the amendment of the Ministers of State Act to permit the appointment of 30 Ministers, there are three Parliamentary Secretaries, two of whom are in the Senate. It is intended that the people holding these positions will be sworn as Ministers as soon as possible. Until that time, as they are not Ministers, they will not answer questions without notice, carry legislation or perform chamber duty.

In allocating functions among departments we have been able to provide for improved co-ordination and broader perspectives within portfolios. We have increased our capacity for imposing functional and strategic directions on government activity in the major areas of economic reform on which Australia's response to the challenges of a highly competitive international environment depends.

The new arrangements allow for greater speed and consistency in the delivery of services and advice to the public. The abolition of the Public Service Board takes its place in this package of reforms designed to eliminate duplication of functions and as a further step in the process of increasing departmental responsibilities. All operational aspects of personnel matters are now to be devolved to departments.

A new Office of Public Service Commissioner will have responsibility for the policy aspects of recruitment, promotion, mobility, discipline and retirement, and for monitoring continuing progress in relation to equal employment opportunity. A part time Public Service Management Advisory Board will advise the Government on significant issues relating to the management of the Public Service. Public Service pay and conditions matters are to be transferred from the Board to the Department of Industrial Relations; and some aspects of classification issues have been transferred to the Department of Finance.

The services of Mr David Block, of which the Government has been most appreciative, will continue to be available to me and the Government. His unit, now called the Administrative Reform Unit, is currently overseeing the preparation of reports on matters such as the possible integration of Social Security and Commonwealth Employment Service local offices, the use of the Department of Social Security as a payment agency, a single foreign service and the future of the National Capital Development Commission. The task the Government has set itself in this area is wide-ranging and ongoing. To ensure that it receives proper co-operation and sustained momentum I have set up a special committee of the Cabinet, under the chairmanship of the Minister for Industrial Relations (Mr Willis), specifically to address Public Service reform.

The revised ministerial and administrative arrangements which I have summarised today are an important part of the Government's strategy of concentrating on its policy priorities while working within a streamlined structure which reflects both the need for financial restraint and the importance of responsiveness and effectiveness. I believe that the arrangements will provide a sound basis from which to undertake the task of meeting the present and future policy needs of the nation.