Australia slashes govt in public service revamp

Scott Cam speaking to media alongside Michaelia Cash and Scott Morrison

READ MOREScott Morrison defends The Block star Scott Cam's $345,000 government contract

In a major overhaul of the Australian Public Service, the prime minister has announced that federal government departments will be reduced from 18 to 14 and five secretaries sacked.

As The Australian reports, Communications and Arts will now fall under a new Department of Infrastructure, Transport, and Regional Development.

Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Thursday that his decision to reduce the number of government departments from 18 to 14 from February 1 would "bust bureaucratic congestion and improve decision making".

Simon Atkinson will be the secretary of the new joined department. "It'll ensure that important policy challenges, in which different parts of the public service are working on, can work more effectively on together".

Mr Morrison, on becoming prime minister, appointed himself as minister for the public service in a signal that he was planning sweeping changes to the "mandarin" club in Canberra...

As a refresher, the Department of Communications and the Arts oversees the functions and operations of Australia's broader internet industry, along with the telecommunications industry and the country's mobile spectrum management, among other areas.

Meanwhile, the creation of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment will consolidate the current Department of Agriculture; and environment functions from the current Department of the Environment and Energy.

Four new "mega-departments" will be the Department of Education, Skills and Employment; the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications; the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources; and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. "That's what we were elected to do", Mr Morrison said.

Australia's public service has already been stripped raw by decades of government outsourcing, waves of senior redundancies, as well as a preference for governments to seek advice from paid consultants, erroneously named "think tanks", and political staffers.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese is deeply sceptical.

"We've seen that writ large, on the floor of the House of Representatives".

"Dismantling departments won't improve services to the community, won't get phones answered or claims processed", CPSU national secretary Melissa Donnelly said.

"It has had an impact on the work that staff are doing", she said.

In short, this "reform" agenda reads like Scott Morrison is telling the public service to "do what their told" and to not question government decision-making.

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