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More than 70 government agencies to be scrapped, consolidated in federal budget

Agencies to consolidate: Treasurer Joe Hockey speaks to the media in the budget lockup.

Agencies to consolidate: Treasurer Joe Hockey speaks to the media in the budget lockup. Photo: Stefan Postles

Mass consolidation and abolition of government bodies hit the headlines like a torpedo this past week but after the budget was released staff at the Public Service Commission would be breathing a sigh of relief - for now.

The commission - and the possibility of it being rolled into the Department of Employment - was not mentioned in the budget, even though the idea was heavily canvassed in the Commission of Audit.

The budget also did not mention spans of control, after the audit said the bureaucracy was top heavy and called on the government to target managers in its cutbacks. 

The en-masse use of shared services was also not given a run but they are still on the government’s consideration list for the future as Prime Minister Tony Abbott pushes on with an agenda of smaller government, which involves consolidating and scrapping more than 70 government bodies by July 2015.

As part of the mergers, the government will bring together ComSuper and the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation so the management of Commonwealth superannuation schemes is done by one organisation.

The National Blood Authority will combine with the Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority, while the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman will be rolled into the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

The Private Health Insurance Administration Council will stop operating as a separate body. Its private health insurance price monitoring functions will be merged with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, while its health fund prudential regulation functions go to Australian Prudential Regulation Authority. 

The Australian River Company will be wound up and the government will cease the Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee.

One amalgamated body will take on the work of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Social Security Appeals Tribunal, Refugee Review Tribunal, Migration Review Tribunal and Classification Review Board. The Veterans Review Board is not included in this amalgamation.

‘‘In the second half of 2014 the government will consider, in consultation with the states, further rationalisation of government bodies, including the potential merging of six health care bodies to create a Health Productivity and Performance Commission,’’ the budget papers said. 

‘‘The government will take into account the findings of the National Commission of Audit.’’

One measure that will save money around the edges and may not make headlines involves indexation of the money given to fund certain programs. 

More than $165 million saved across the coming four years is through the pausing of the indexation on 112 administered programs.

Other changes affecting public servants will have zero impact on the budget. Transferring the Telecommunications Universal Service Management Agency to the Department of Communications will save no money.

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