MOG CHANGES

PURPOSE

This note explains changes to the machinery of Australian Government from 1 July 2022. In government parlance, the process is referred to as being MOGGED. It is intended to highlight the  name and provenance of top tier leaders– the Secretaries – who will shape and empower newly mustered teams of possibly more familiar, funding and policy makers in your existing network.

Many portfolios of interest to the local government sector are on the move – new departments, new oversight and new leadership.  This briefing note is a must have, back pocket who’s who and what’s where in Canberra.  To win greater financial support, it helps to know the new team and new terrain.

It’s a new government and a new deal with new expectations on the role of the lg sector, well beyond the transactional. Case in point. Prime minister Anthony Albanese and his new government have committed to enshrining a First Nations Voice in the Australian Constitution. To do so, a majority of Australians in a majority of states will have to vote “yes” at a referendum. The Minister, Linda Burney, declared a week ago thatb she intends to harness the power of the lg sector to support a “yes” case,  believing that the level of government closest to the people will lend power to the campaign to reset the nation’s social contract.

SUMMARY

There are now 17 Secretaries and sixteen portfolio departments.  Gordon de Brouwer is the “17th man” – a secretary for Public Sector Reform, showing the government means what it says about reinvigorating the APS.

The changes range from department mergers and demergers to a reshuffling of several agencies under new umbrella portfolios.  by now departments and agencies should have reviewed and tweaked outcome statements, on top of performing due diligence to identify any complex issues with the MOG directives. 

PM Albanese’s changes will create two new departments: employment and workplace relations, as well as climate change, energy, the environment and water. Those departments would be led by secretaries Natalie James and David Fredericks, respectively.

THE MOST POWERFUL 17 FEDERAL PUBLIC SERVANTS…

Some departments will also be renamed, with the Department of Health now being known as the Department of Health and Aged Care.

Some departments will also be renamed, with the Department of Health now being known as the Department of Health and Aged Care.

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications will now be known as the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts. Jim Betts, is the new Infrastructure secretary, replacing former coalition staffer Simon Atkinson, who did not survive the change of government. Betts will answer to seven different ministers, four of them in cabinet, the titular minister being Catherine King.

Betts has held senior public service positions in New South Wales and his knowledge in areas of infrastructure and development is deep.  He has proven leadership qualities and a track record of no-nonsense dealings up and down the chain of command.

Andrew Metcalfe stays in charge of current Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (secretary ) and the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (secretary Michele Bruniges), which are both being split, but the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources is also losing a big chunk, along with the secretary David Fredericks, who will move to the new Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water; his replacement has not yet been revealed.

Agriculture will become the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. A media spokesperson said the new organisational charts for it and Climate Change would be released after July 1 – not as helpful as we’d hoped. While the Administrative Arrangement Order lists all relevant legislation, it doesn’t go to department structures, so it’s easy to get it wrong from the outside.

Agriculture will lose to Climate Change at least three of the four divisions currently belonging to the water, climate adaptation, natural disasters and Antarctic group that is headed by deputy secretary Lyn O’Connell: water; climate adaptation and resilience; and the Australian Antarctic Division. The drought and farm resilience division will presumably stay.

Also expected to move is the entire environment and heritage group run by deputy secretary Chris Locke. This has six divisions: environmental approvals; biodiversity conservation; heritage, reef and ocean division; the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office; Parks Australia; and parks policy.

Then there is the major environmental reforms group, headed by acting deputy secretary James Tregurtha. This has two divisions: environmental protection reform and environment protection. Both will surely move across. Last, the biosecurity and compliance group headed by deputy secretary Andrew Tongue, has the Office of Water Compliance.

Associated portfolio agencies to move are:

  • the Bureau of Meteorology,
  • the Australian Climate Service,
  • the Murray-Darling Basin Authority,
  • the Regional Investment Corporation,
  • the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust,
  • the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the
  • Director of National Parks.

FANCY SOME NEW ACRONYMS? TRY DISR..  AND DEWR..

The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources is set to become the Department of Industry, Science and Resources, losing all of its energy functions to Climate Change.

Deputy secretary Jo Evans heads three divisions, of which two will surely move: international climate and technology; and climate change. The critical minerals and major projects division would, presumably, stay put. 

Deputy secretary Sean Sullivan heads four divisions, of which at least two – electricity and energy – appear destined to move, while at least parts of the onshore resources division and the offshore resources and liquid fuels division relating to gas and liquid fuels would also likely go. It is unclear as to which deputy secretary (or both) would go with them.

Associated Industry portfolio agencies to move to the Climate Change portfolio include:

  • the Australian Institute of Marine Science;
  • the Climate Change Authority;
  • the Clean Energy Regulator;
  • the Clean Energy Finance Corporation;
  • the Australian Renewable Energy Agency;
  • Snowy Hydro Limited;
  • the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority;
  • and the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner.

The three education groups, early childhood and childcare, under deputy secretary Brenton Philp; schools and youth, under Ros Baxter; and higher education, research and international under Tony Cook will stay with the new Department of Education.

Skills and training, under Nadine Williams, and employment and workforce, under Nathan Smyth, as well as the National Skills Commission, move to the reborn Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, whose secretary will be Natalie James, who among other things was a former chief counsel in an earlier version of the department, and Fair Work ombud. Arrangements for corporate and enabling services (under deputy secretary Marcus Markovic), including shared services, are still a work in progress.

The new Employment department will also take the industrial relations group (deputy secretary Martin Hehir) from the Attorney-General’s department, as well as the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

In turn, Attorney-General’s (Secretary Katherine Jones) is also gaining some functions from the Home Affairs portfolio, with the move of the protective security services and criminal law enforcement policy functions to the department, and:

  • the Australian Federal Police,
  • the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac),
  • the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (still the Australian Crime Commission for legal purposes)

The national child-protection policy and copyright policy will now also sit within the A-Gs department.

Home Affairs is gaining the natural disaster response and mitigation function, including the National Recovery and Resilience Agency, from the Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio. 

The NRRA future is unclear.

There are more MOG moves here and there, of course, but those are the most prominent.

Along with the appointments of Glyn Davis to PM&C, Jan Adams at Foreign Affairs, de Brouwer, Fredericks and the new unnamed Industry secretary, it means the latest round of musical chairs in the secretaries’ board amounts to eight chairs being filled: six new secretaries and two recycled ones. Onwards and upwards, then, to the new era of 16 portfolio departments and one extra secretary, so 17 secretaries altogether.

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