Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a public service shake-up that will see the IT agenda consolidated into new super-departments.
Morrison said the restructure would mean government services would be “delivered more efficiently and more effectively”.
“Having fewer departments will allow us to bust bureaucratic congestion, improve decision making, and ultimately deliver better services for the Australian people,” he said.
Matters dealing with innovation, technology, and the development of the ICT industry will sit alongside small business and energy policies in the newly formed Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, headed up by secretary David Fredericks.
Morrison said the new department would be economically focused.
“This is about bringing together all the various different parts of our industry – resources, energy, small business that impact each day on the operations of our Australian economy at a microeconomic level,” he said.
“Ensuring that the access and use of science and digitisation technologies and all of these things can become all part of the supply chains that exist in the Australian economy.”
Policy relating to broadband and the information economy will sit in the same department as transport and regional development in the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, which will be looked after by secretary Simon Atksinson.
Morrison said it was important to view communications technology as vital infrastructure.
“I want to ensure that our regional towns and communities are plugged in and are locked into the prosperity that can be achieved and will be achieved in our economy in the years to come,” he said.
“Infrastructure, communications, they are the same thing these days.
“They are actually plugging people in and connecting them in inclusively into the benefits of a growing economy.”
Agriculture functions will be transferred to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, while the government’s employment and skills functions will move to the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.
Also being changed is the Department of Human Services, which will become an executive agency under the social services portfolio.
Opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, told journalists the public service shake-up was “about centralising power”.
“This Prime Minister has been making cuts to the public service continually since they were elected in 2013,” he said.
“If you, for example, have an issue on the environment put together in the way that it is with agriculture, you can see that are real issues behind the centralisation that has occurred as a result of these changes.”
The public service shake-up will see the number of government departments reduced from 18 to 14 with changes coming into effect from February next year.