Media Release

Smaller, More Efficient and Effective Government

MC 142/14

Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance

15 December 2014

The Government continues to deliver a comprehensive package of Smaller Government reforms, designed to cut waste and duplication, while improving the efficiency, effectiveness and focus of the Commonwealth public service.

We are now delivering the third and most significant phase of abolitions and amalgamations of Government bodies so far.

The 2014-15 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) includes detail of decisions taken or implemented since the Budget to reduce the number of government bodies by a further 175. This takes the total reduction in the number of government bodies, once the first three tranches of the Smaller Government Reform Agenda have been fully implemented, to 251 since the last election.

In the 2014-15 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook the Government has reported decisions to:

  • Abolish 138 government bodies;
  • Consolidate 15 government bodies into existing government departments;
  • Transfer two bodies out of the Commonwealth;
  • Merge 26 bodies (for a net reduction of 20), while five will consolidate their back offices with shared service centres or supporting departments.

We will also commence a further scoping study to consider options for the future ownership and operation of the communications network used by the Government in Canberra.

Details of the changes are available in the Ministerial Paper Smaller Government – Towards a Sustainable Future, released today.

These reforms build on previous decisions to reduce the number of Australian Government bodies by 76.

The Government is already making progress on realising earlier decisions.

  • Successfully completed the sale of Medibank Private, raising $5.7 billion in proceeds that will be recycled into productivity enhancing, job creating infrastructure.
  • Merged AusAid into the Department of Foreign Affairs, saving close to $400 million over four years.
  • Merged the former Department of Regional Australia and Local Government into the Department of Infrastructure. This is saving $17.6 million over four years from the removal of duplicated corporate functions.
  • Passed legislation to abolish Health Workforce Australia on 22 September, saving $142.0 million over four years.
  • Passed legislation to repeal the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation, 41 years after its ‘temporary’ establishment.
  • Abolished the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Reform Council from 30 June 2014, with residual monitoring functions shifting to the Productivity Commission. This will save $8.3 million over four years.
  • Merged the National Competition Council Secretariat with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, with effect from 1 July 2014. This will save $3.6 million over four years. The National Competition Council will continue as a separate body.
  • Passed legislation to abolish the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency, with functions transferred to the Department of Industry.
  • Introduced legislation to Parliament for the abolition of the National Water Commission, the Telecommunications Universal Service Management Agency, the Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee, the Australian National Preventive Health Agency and for the division of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.
  • Commissioned scoping studies on the future ownership options for several government owned business organisations to be considered as part of the current Budget process for the Royal Australian Mint, the ASIC Register, Australian Hearing and Defence Housing Australia.

The announcement in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook will take total savings from the Government’s Smaller Government Agenda to $539.5 million. Further savings from the consolidation of the Australian Government Solicitor into the Attorney-General’s Department will be announced in 2015.

To ensure Government departments and major agencies are as efficient as they can be, we will also be conducting in-depth reviews to identify operational improvements. Independent experts will begin by reviewing the Departments of Education and Health. Lessons learned from these reviews will be reflected in subsequent reviews of other departments and major agencies.

To prevent the creation of unnecessary bureaucratic structures and ensure Government structures are efficient, effective and streamlined further over time, we are introducing an Australian Government Governance Policy. This policy will support better decision-making and limit the creation of new government bodies in the future.

The Government will also be releasing an online Australian Government Organisations Register, which for the first time lists and classifies all Australian Government bodies.

This will enable people to easily find information about the function, origin and composition of all government bodies.

The Register reveals that the Government inherited a total of 1,252 separate government bodies from our predecessors – Our goal is to get this well below a 1,000 by the end of this term of Government.

[ENDS]

Media Contact(s): 

Karen Wu – 0428 350 139