The Morrison government has elevated the Coalition's decentralisation project in naming its first ministry, flagging the relocation of public service jobs to regional towns as core business.
A reshuffle of the government's senior MPs has also landed Senator Mathias Cormann with responsibility for the federal bureaucracy in a move that hands greater control of the public service to a defender of its growing spend on contractors.
Victorian Nationals MP Bridget McKenzie, a staunch advocate of relocating federal bureaucracy roles to the bush, has become minister for decentralisation as new Prime Minister Scott Morrison used his ministerial overhaul to signal his government's priorities.
Senator McKenzie sparred with other MPs while she sat on a parliamentary committee last year investigating Barnaby Joyce's turbulent project to move the pesticides authority to Armidale from Canberra, defending Coalition efforts to decentralise government agencies from attacks by Labor and the Greens.
The Nationals deputy leader, a senior member of the Morrison government, will focus on decentralisation along with her regional services, sport and local government portfolios.
Mr Morrison had to form a new coalition agreement with the Liberal party's junior partners after emerging from Friday's leadership spill as the new Prime Minister, but whether decentralisation is part of the new deal is unknown outside the government.
His own economic advisory body as treasurer, the Productivity Commission, last year labelled decentralisation a dud, saying it was a costly and ineffective way to grow regional wealth and risked damaging the performance of government agencies.
The Coalition agreement, negotiated with Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Michael McCormack, is likely to remain a secret continuing a longstanding trend. Labor agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon, a longstanding critic of the pesticides authority's forced relocation, called for the deal to be public.
Senator Cormann will take the ministerial reins of the federal public service from Kelly O'Dwyer after Mr Morrison gave him the ministry overseeing the bureaucracy on Sunday.
The Prime Minister has elevated the portfolio - previously treated as an assistant ministry - in handing it to Senator Cormann, a senior and respected Coalition government figure. The move could reflect that the government intends to keep its large-scale review of the public service alive despite Malcolm Turnbull's removal as Liberal leader, and put reform higher on its agenda.
His entry to the role will pair him in the bureaucracy with new public service commissioner Peter Woolcott and Prime Minister's department secretary Martin Parkinson in any efforts to reform the public service.
The main public sector union warned last week Mr Morrison as Prime Minister would not change a "destructive ideology" that had damaged the public service.
"This government has done enormous damage to public sector jobs, capacity, public services, wages and working rights, and the reality is that damage can only be repaired with a change of government,” Community and Public Sector Union national secretary Nadine Flood said.
Mr Morrison had overseen massive cuts to public service jobs and budgets as treasurer and growing spending on consultants, contractors and labour hire.
"It truly is a choice between bad or worse,” she said, comparing Mr Morrison to challenger Peter Dutton.
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