Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson has kept his job in public service shake-up
TONY Abbott sacked three department heads within minutes of being sworn in as prime minister but one of the nation’s most influential public servants, Martin Parkinson, defied speculation and retained his job.
But the Treasury secretary has advised new Treasurer Joe Hockey that he intends to stand down from the role he’s held since March 2011 in the middle of next year.
“The government will be discussing a further appointment with him next year,” Mr Abbott said in his first formal statement after being sworn in by Governor-General Quentin Bryce on Wednesday.
It means Dr Parkinson will be around to assist Mr Hockey with his first mid-year budget review, which Mr Abbott has signalled could be as late as January, and the May budget next year.
Market Economics managing director and former Treasury senior economist Stephen Koukoulas expects Dr Parkinson’s replacement will likely come from within Treasury, or the departments of Finance and Prime Minister and Cabinet, rather than from the private sector.
Respected executive director of Treasury’s macroeconomics group David Gruen has been seen as a future secretary.
Three other department secretaries – Andrew Metcalfe at Agriculture, Blair Comley at Resources and Energy and Don Russell at Innovation, Industry, Science and Research – have been axed.
Two new department secretaries have been appointed.
Dr Gordon de Brouwer will head the Department of the Environment and Renée Leon will lead the Department of Employment.
Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said the changes were aimed at making government organisations work more efficiently.
“They are relatively minor (changes),” Mr Truss told AAP.
“I think that is a demonstration that we want – wherever possible – for business to continue with capable people, but hopefully decision-making being done in a more orderly and well-balanced way.”
A number of changes to the structures of departments were also announced.
Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese was critical of the changes, especially to the public service’s senior ranks.
“These jobs should not be political playthings, these jobs are important,” he told reporters in Brisbane.
Among the biggest changes to departments and agencies is the placement of AusAID back into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Mr Abbott said this would “enable the aid and diplomatic arms of Australia’s international policy agenda to be more closely aligned”.
But ActionAid Australia executive director Archie Law believes this will have a “massive and devastating” impact on an aid program that already faces a $4 billion cut under the coalition.
“We will inevitably see the aid budget used to promote Australia’s national interests first and foremost,” he said in a statement.
Customs and border protection will now report to Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, but settlement services for refugees will shift to the Department of Social Services, which will also handle aged care and disability services and all income support programs.
The employment department will combine workplace relations and jobs programs, while climate change policies and programs will move from the industry department to the environment department.
Mr Abbott’s own department will take on indigenous affairs, deregulation and the Office of Women. – AAP