Number of government departments slashed

By Jamie Salter

The number of Federal Government departments will be cut from 18 to 14, with environment and agriculture to be combined in one department.

Four new departments will be created next year:

● Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

● Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

● Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

● Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.

“Having fewer departments will allow us to bust bureaucratic congestion,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said last Thursday.

The government said the change was to deliver improved services, rather than cutting costs.

“Bringing together the environment and agriculture departments will provide greater synergies to the policies and programs that underpin regional Australia and our agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries,” Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie, Environment Minister Sussan Ley and Water Minister David Littleproud said in a statement.

“Managing our natural environment, our water, our land, our soils and air together makes sense,” they said.

Labor deputy leader Richard Marles said there needed to be stability within the public service.

“I think it's really important — particularly at this time, given all the challenges that we're facing — that the government is managing the public service in a way which maintains stability and ultimately maintains morale,” he said.

The Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment will have a new secretary, Andrew Metcalfe, who will replace Daryl Quinlivan.