MEDIA RELEASE

Smaller Government – Transforming The Public Sector

MC 20/15

Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance

Date: Monday, 11 May 2015

The Government continues to progress its Smaller Government Reform agenda, transforming the public service by improving efficiency, effectiveness and by eliminating waste and duplication.

These efforts are delivering greater value to taxpayers through better services delivered faster and at a lower cost.

In the 2015-16 Budget the Government will make progress on these important priorities across a range of areas.

Smaller Government

The Government is now delivering the fourth phase of its Smaller Government Reform agenda to ensure the public sector is as streamlined, effective and transparent as possible.

In the 2015-16 Budget the Government is announcing a further reduction in the number of Government bodies by 35 through:

  • The abolition of 32 government bodies and replacing an additional body;
  • The merger of a further three bodies (for a net reduction of two) bodies; and
  • The replacement of one Commonwealth body with a state body.

Under our Smaller Government Reform agenda the number of Government bodies has been reduced by 286 so far.

Overall our Smaller Government Reform agenda has achieved $1.4 billion in savings so far, to repair the Budget and fund other policy priorities.

The Government has achieved its objective to reduce public service staffing levels below 2006-07 levels.

Over the period from 1 September 2013 to 28 February 2015 over 17,300 public servants left the public service, mostly by natural attrition or voluntary redundancies.

More details on the savings from the fourth phase of the Smaller Government Reform agenda are available at Attachment A.

A fifth phase of our Smaller Government Reform agenda will be included in MYEFO 2015-16.

Sharpening the scope and focus of Government

The Government has begun a program of Functional and Efficiency Reviews of portfolio departments and major agencies to better align these functions and activities with the Government's strategic objectives and policy priorities.

Following these reviews of the Department of Health and the Department of Education and Training, the Government will save:

  • $106 million through efficiencies in Department of Health contractor, corporate, staff and property costs, with $10 million of that reinvested in the analytic capacity of the department; and
  • $131 million, primarily from additional efficiencies across the Department of Education and Training.

The Government will continue to consider recommendations from these reviews, which will lead to additional opportunities to improve efficiency and effectiveness and to save money for taxpayers.

In addition, the Government will save $54.2 million over five years from 2014-15 through efficiencies in the administration of the Attorney-General's portfolio.

In the Department of Immigration and Border Protection $168.1 million will be saved over four years from 2015-16 through targeted departmental efficiencies and a program of visa simplification.

Over the next few weeks the Government will be initiating further functional reviews of the following Government departments and major agencies:

  • The Department of Agriculture;
  • The Department of the Environment;
  • The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade;
  • The Department of the Treasury;
  • The Attorney-General's Department;
  • The Australian Taxation Office;
  • The Department of Social Services; and
  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics

Property divestment

Subject to the outcomes of market testing, the Government will proceed with the divestment of four properties within the parliamentary triangle:

  • East Block;
  • West Block;
  • ANZAC Park East; and
  • ANZAC Park West (including the restaurant building).

Divestment will not impact on heritage protections and planning controls for properties in the parliamentary triangle.

The Government has decided to retain ownership of the John Gorton Building and the Treasury Building at this time.

The Government intends to sell the property previously used by the Australian Emergency Management Institute at Mount Macedon and will divest additional regional properties that are surplus to requirements.

Scoping studies

The Government has carefully considered scoping studies that assess the optimal arrangements for delivery and ownership options of a number of Government businesses and assets.

We have taken the following decisions:

  • Australian Rail Track Corporation
    The Government will undertake a scoping study in 2015-16 on options for the future management, operations and ownership of the Australian Rail Track Corporation Ltd.

    Recommendations from this study will be considered as part of the 2016-17 Budget process.

  • Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) registry services
    The Government will undertake a competitive tender process to test the market on the capacity of a private operator to upgrade and operate the ASIC registry.

    The Government will maintain ownership of the base data.

  • Defence Housing Australia
    The Government will not proceed with a sale of Defence Housing Australia at this time. However, the Government will review Defence Housing Australia's accounting, information technology and business reporting systems to improve the transparency of the cost of providing services.

    There will be no change to the entitlements of Australian Defence Force members.

  • Australian Hearing
    The Government will consult further with hearing impaired Australians, their families and other key stakeholders before making a decision on ownership options for Australian Hearing. Also see the Minister's media release of 8 May 2015.
  • Intra Government Communications Network
    The scoping study on the future ownership of Intra Government Communications Network is underway. The Government will consider the recommendations of the scoping study later in 2015.
  • Future Arrangements for the Royal Australian Mint
    The Royal Australian Mint will be retained in Government ownership in its current form, because it is operating as an effective business and it is well-regarded by its international peers.

Media Contacts
Karen Wu – 0428 350 139

Attachment A
2015-16 Budget Smaller Government reforms

To eliminate waste and duplication, improve the efficiency and enhance the delivery and focus of public services, the Government has announced in the 2015-16 Budget:

Agriculture

The following bodies will be abolished with any ongoing functions to be performed by the Department of Agriculture:

  • the Aquaculture Committee;
  • the Community Consultative Committee;
  • the Industry Liaison Committee;
  • the National Decision Making and Investment Working Group; and
  • the Statutory Fishing Rights Allocation Review Panel.

The SCAHLS Point-of-Care Tests Working Group and the Sub-committee on National Forest Health have ceased, with residual functions of the latter transferring to other plant health sub-committees.

The Freshwater Invertebrate Pests Subcommittee will merge with the Invasive Plants and Animals Committee.

Attorney Generals

The Government will save $54.2 million over five years from 2014-15 through efficiencies in the administration of the Attorney-General's portfolio.

The Administrative Review Council will be abolished with any ongoing functions to be performed by the Attorney-General's Department.

In addition, $0.4 million will be saved over four years from 2015-16 through the National Gallery of Australia extending its outsourced security and guarding functions.

Communications

The ABC Splash Strategic Advisory Group will be abolished, following its work to assist the ABC in the development phase of ABC Splash.

Defence

The Defence Materiel Organisation will be consolidated into the Department of Defence.

Education and Training

$7.6 million will be saved over four years from 2015-16, through functional and efficiency reforms to the Department of Education, with further savings from terminating or redesigned programmes bringing total savings to $131.0 million.

The Office for Learning and Teaching Strategic Advisory Committee has been abolished and will be replaced with a program to be administered by the university sector.

The work of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Advisory Council will conclude later in 2015, saving $1.3 million over four years from 2015-16. The Government will continue its focus on Indigenous higher education through the Prime Minister's Indigenous Advisory Council, other consultation and forums.

Seven vocational education and training governance bodies will be replaced by the Australian Industry and Skills Council saving $1.6 million net over five years from 2014-15. This includes the Data and Performance Measurement Principal Committee; the Workforce Development, Supply and Demand Principal Committee; and five bodies identified in the 2014-15 MYEFO for abolition.

The following bodies have ceased operations:

  • ANU Section 68 Pty Ltd – following the decision of its directors to liquidate;
  • the National Partnerships Implementation Working Group – following conclusion of the Smarter Schools National Partnership Agreements;
  • the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group – following completion of its report; and
  • the Online Assessment Committee (with its functions to be performed by the Online Assessment Working Group.

Environment

The Water Act Review Expert Panel will be abolished following completion of its review.

The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) Expert Reference Group has ceased following completion of consultations on the establishment of the ERF.

The River Murray Water Committee has ceased, with residual functions to be performed by the River Murray Operations Committee.

Finance

The Hume Garden Estate joint venture has been abolished, following wind-up of the Albury Wodonga Development Corporation.

Health

$106 million will be saved over four years from 2015-16 by consolidating the corporate and legal services of the Therapeutic Goods Administration into the Department of Health; removing duplication between the activities of the Department and several agencies; rationalising the structure of the Department to better align to Government priorities; rationalising business support functions, property costs and contractor expenses. $10 million of the saving will be reinvested into the analytic capacity of the department.

The National Lead Clinicians Group will be abolished with residual functions to be conducted by the Department of Health, saving $17.1 million over five years from 2014-15.

Immigration and Border Protection

In the Department of Immigration and Border Protection $168.1 million will be saved over four years from 2015-16 through targeted departmental efficiencies and a program of visa simplification.

The Office of the Migrations Agents Registration Authority will be consolidated into the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, saving $1 million over four years from 2014-15. The OMARA Advisory Board will be replaced with a non-remunerated independent reference group, saving a further $0.2 million.

Final savings from the consolidation of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service into the Department of Immigration and Border Protection are fully quantified in the 2015 Budget, including an addition $200.1 million and taking total savings to $270.1 million over five years from 2014-15.

Industry and Science

The CSIRO Environment Strategic Advisory Committee will be abolished with its functions to be reallocated to a flagship advisory committee. IIF investments Pty Ltd will also be abolished.

The CSIRO Marine National Facility Steering Committee will become a subcommittee under the CSIRO Board.

In addition, the Bureau of Resource and Energy Economics has been consolidated into the Department of Industry and Science.

The Consumer Advocacy Panel has been abolished and its function transferred from the Commonwealth to the South Australian Government.

Prime Minister and Cabinet

Six trusts have been dissolved due to the transfer of assets to the Indigenous Real Estate Investment Trust:

  • the National Indigenous Participation Trust;
  • the Indigenous Investment Trust;
  • the Scarborough House Office Trust;
  • the Scarborough House Investment Trust;
  • the National Indigenous Property; and
  • the Indigenous Property Trust.

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