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Public service may escape shake-up

The public service may escape wholesale change despite Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's extensive reshuffle.

The public service may escape wholesale change despite Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's extensive reshuffle. Photo: Simone De Peak

The public service might escape wholesale change despite the extensive shuffle of the Rudd government ministry.

While new ministers were sworn in, and existing ones took new portfolios, the government has not announced it will realign departments with ministers' responsibilities.

The office of the Minister for the Public Service, Mark Dreyfus, did not reply by late Monday as to whether this major change would occur so close to the election, through an amendment to the administrative arrangements orders.

Senior public servants are expecting to spend Tuesday briefing the new class of ministers who have been sworn in to form the Rudd government's new frontbench.

Climate Change has been shifted from Industry back to Environment.

Immigration has another new minister, while the opposition is critical of ''rotation'' in the Sports portfolio.

Stephen Bartos, governance expert with ACIL Allen Consulting, said the public service had come off well.

''Often if you change ministers, you also change all the departments underneath them. They haven't done that; there is not a wholesale reshuffling of the arrangements underneath the ministers,'' he said.

"In a sense they've done the public service a favour and there's no need for anyone to physically move as a result of these changes.

"Ministers have changed, they'll need to be briefed but departments won't need to change and hopefully departments will be in a good position to brief ministers because they've been given enough advance warning.''

Mr Bartos said new ministers would have their ''hands on the tiller'' from Tuesday. "The expectation is that the moment a new minister is sworn in, they have a briefing with the department,'' he said.

"I imagine they will have had oral briefings from their heads of departments pretty soon after they were sworn in.

"Normally the head of department goes over to the minister's office to tell them what the key issues are, whether there are any instant burning political issues they have to deal with that day and also gives them a bunch of folders.''

Richard Denniss, executive director of the Australia Institute, said it would be a waste of public sector time and political capital for new ministers to rearrange departments.

"There are a lot of new ministers here and it will take them a lot of time to get their heads around the policy

issues,'' he said. "If they spend couple of months thinking about administrative issues, I'm not sure the public will reward them.''

Dr Denniss said Kevin Rudd's challenge for Tony Abbott to have a debate this week about debt and deficit was good news for the public sector. ''There aren't many economists who would suggest sacking a lot of public servants when the economy is slowing is consistent with the principles of sound fiscal policy,'' he said.

"Tony Abbott has said repeatedly he will rely on natural attrition to generate his job cuts but in reality that means the public servants with the most transportable skills will leave without being replaced while those with nowhere to go are more likely to stay put.

"You'll lose all the IT workers, accountants and lawyers and you'll be left with those approaching the end of their career who don't think anyone else might employ them.''

Writing in The Public Sector Informant, former departmental secretary and public service commissioner Andrew Podger says: ''Portfolio responsibilities should, as far as possible, reflect longer-term functional relationships, limiting the extent of administrative churn required as political priorities change.''

14 comments

  • The reaction to placing women as Rudd has on his front bench is both reactive and superficial, its almost like every kids gets a prize, the front bench to all sense can be described as not B team or even C team , but something out of F Troop.The shallowest talent fool in Australian history. For starters Bowen promoted to Treasury is appalling, this was the man that presided over Immigration that in his first 2.5 years had 25,000 people through, in 430 boats on his watch. The fact that 8 ministers have dumped their responsibilities to walk away, just gives everyone the impression that no one wants part of the Rudd Government. As for Rudd wanting a debate with Abbott is part of Rudds 2007 campaign of " Me to " policy development of which he had none, as policy for Rudd is skin deep and always policy thin, and which turns into policy disaster. Rudd is the architect of nearly all of Labors Issues over the past 6 years, you would think after 3 years in the wilderness Rudd would have policies coming out his ears, but clearly those 3 years was purely for revenge and vengeance against Gillard.As for the public servants, some front benches have some very big responsibilities, and will take a lot of time to get these ministers up to speed if ever , and yet to all sense and purposes we are at the 11th hour and in caretaker mode, and then they will have to do the same for the coalition, in a few months .Wake up Australia same KRudd, same Kruddy mess.

    Commenter
    Martin Says
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    July 02, 2013, 8:31AM
    • These talking points brought to you by the LNP.

      Commenter
      That Guy
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      July 02, 2013, 10:38AM
    • @That guy.. No just an informed voter !!

      Commenter
      Martin Says
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      July 02, 2013, 11:37AM
    • I respectfully disagree Martin.

      Commenter
      That Guy
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      July 02, 2013, 12:37PM
  • When is the election again?

    Commenter
    Outraged of Palmerston
    Date and time
    July 02, 2013, 10:24AM
    • When he Kruddy well wants !!

      Commenter
      Martin Says
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      July 02, 2013, 1:14PM
  • I can't wait for the election! These Labor clowns have to go. Just when you think PM Rudd is a good leader, what does he do? He allows julia gillard to occupy the office of the PM while he works out of Albanese's office! gillard gave Rudd 45 minutes to vacate the PM's office when she stabbed him in the back.

    On top of that, Rudd is allowing julia gillard and tim to live in the Lodge and they don't know when they will vacate the place. This is all at the expense of the tax payers' money.

    julia gillard hasn't gone anywhere, Kevin Rudd is still bowing down yet again to her demands. I believe gillard will challenge Rudd again before the election. Bring on the Abbott government!!

    Goodbye Labor, you won't get rid of julia gillard, so the voters will get rid of you.

    Commenter
    Sharron
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    July 02, 2013, 11:00AM
    • Hi Sharron, to be fair Gillard said she would not move into the lodge until after the election.and I think Rudd moved from his office 2 weeks after he has knifed.I think there is protocol when it comes to this, if not Labor would have written it by now, as no one is safe in the ALP.

      Commenter
      Martin Says
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      July 02, 2013, 1:08PM
    • I don't have anything to be fair to gillard about Martin!! She gave Rudd 45 minutes to leave the office and she should do the same.

      julia gillard and her boyfriend tim should vacate the Lodge immediately. If you want to pay for their stay at the Lodge, then do so with your own money Martin. But do not expect the tax payers to fork out anymore money for that woman.

      Commenter
      Sharron
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      July 02, 2013, 2:07PM
    • I don't suppose you saw the Morgan Poll in yesterday's items. If that trend continues, you may have to wait a little longer than you would otherwise have hoped to see the changes you obviously so dearly covet.

      Commenter
      Rohn
      Location
      Adelaide
      Date and time
      July 02, 2013, 7:35PM

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