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Morrison's Machinery of Government Changes

The Government's announcement of new public service agencies and portfolios sends some clear messages. Here's what they mean.

On 29 May 2019, Prime Minister Scott Morrison capitalised on his new-found authority and ordered some significant changes to the structure of various Government Departments.

The swift announcement helps steady the ship after an unexpected win, laying out the Government's agenda under Morrison and providing certainty moving forward.

Here are the main shifts to keep an eye on.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction

Energy Minister Angus Taylor has taken over responsibility for Emissions Reduction from the Environment portfolio. The merger of the two signals a focus on the energy industry's role in emissions reduction and greater policy cohesion, providing hope for an elusive long-term energy policy.

Services Australia (formerly Human Services)

Newly-created Services Australia - based on Services NSW - will replace the Department of Human Services, moving service delivery out of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and into the renamed Department of Families and Social Services. The changes aim to make government services such as the Australian Taxation Office more navigable.

National Disability Insurance Scheme

The National Disability Insurance Scheme has also gained its own portfolio under the shake-up, with Minister Stuart Robert set to face off against Shadow Minister Bill Shorten while trying to improve accountability and rollout of the scheme.

National Faster Rail Agency

The Government's push for fast rail services, unveiled in the 2019 Budget, is officially underway with the establishment of the National Faster Rail Agency. The Agency is funded to explore business cases for fast rail routes between regional centres and State Capitals Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.


Under Deputy PM Josh Frydenberg, Treasury has also gained broader responsibilities, taking over population policy and housing affordability from the Infrastructure and Social Services portfolios.

Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business (formerly Jobs and Small Business)

Renamed from the Department of Jobs and Small Business, the portfolio will remain in Cabinet under reappointed Minister Michaelia Cash, following through with the Government's small-business campaign focus. It also takes on significant additional responsibilities, acquiring vocational education and training and apprenticeships from the Education Department.

Minister for Industrial Relations and Attorney-General

Industrial Relations will be moved into the Attorney-General's Department, with Minister Christian Porter set to coordinate with Cash and emphasise higher thresholds for unfair dismissal claims as well as strengthening the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

Department of Home Affairs

Mega-portfolio Home Affairs has gained oversight of refugee services and education. Labor had previously vowed to dismantle the portfolio created in 2017, however Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has confirmed his intention to carry it into government, appointing Kristina Keneally as Shadow Minister. The changes also pave the way for high-profile skirmishes between Keneally and incumbent Minister Peter Dutton.

National Indigenous Australians Agency

The newly-created National Indigenous Australians Agency will be tasked with coordinating and implementing Indigenous policy under Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt, operating with greater autonomy out of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Name Changes

These Departments have also been renamed:

  • Department of Agriculture (formerly Agriculture and Water Resources);
  • Department of Education (formerly Education and Training);
  • Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development (formerly Regional Development, Infrastructure and Cities).

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