The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has racked up a bill of nearly $180,000 to rebrand as Department of Agriculture, four years after the expunged words were tacked on.
The eyewatering total included a spend of more than $67,000 to replace signs across national and regional offices, and over $13,000 on fleet vehicle decals.
It also included $20,000 on new name badges and $2200 on new business cards.
The name change was announced after the federal election, when Prime Minister Scott Morrison split the portfolio to make Nationals Deputy Leader Bridget McKenzie Agriculture Minister and David Littleproud Water Resources Minister.
Asked to explain, the department referred all questions on to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, which failed to respond.
Labor's spokeswoman on the public service, Katy Gallagher said taxpayers should not have to pick up the tab for Mr Morrison's decision to split the internal functions of the department.
"$180,000 seems to be an awful lot of money for simply dropping three words from a departments' name," Senator Gallagher said.
"Taxpayers would be scratching their heads in wonder at how this could constitute good value for money."
The switch is even more confusing, given Mr Morrison's predecessor Malcolm Turnbull only added "water resources" to the department's title in 2015.
Mr Turnbull, consistent with his reputation for being verbose, also added "innovation" to the title of the Department of Industry and Science and "arts" to the Department of Communications at the same time.
It has never been explained why either rebadging was necessary but it continues a time-honoured tradition of adding and subtracting words from government department titles.
It had only been the Department of Agriculture since 2013, when then prime minister Tony Abbott renamed the department of agriculture, fisheries and forestry.
At that time, Mr Abbott pared back some of the more waffly department names in the Commonwealth bureaucracy.
The Department of Social Services replaced the department of families, housing, community services and indigenous affairs, and the Department of Industry superseded the department of innovation, industry, science and research and the department of resources, energy and tourism.
But that pruning also came with quite the price tag.
It cost nearly $200,000 to rebrand immigration and citizenship as the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, according to reports at the time.
Then department secretary Martin Bowles told Senate estimates the spend was actually good news for the public purse, because fewer boxes of stationery needed to be turfed out than in other years.
"The good thing about name changes these days is most things are electronic so there's not a lot of costs in a range of things," Mr Bowles said.
Adding "citizenship" and removing "multicultural affairs" from the same department's title in 2007 under the Howard government cost $500,000 in staff uniforms, news reports at the time said.
But it's not just the agriculture department spending big on minor title tweaks this time around.
The department of infrastructure, regional development and cities spent nearly $24,000 adding transport to its name this year. It now has the protracted moniker of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development.
A spokesperson for the department declined to provide a breakdown in costs for the changes, but said it included updating digital and physical assets.
"The name of portfolios is a decision for government," a spokesperson said.
The department of jobs and small business spent more than $8200 to rebrand to the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business.
Curiously, Mr Morrison's most high profile rebrand - changing the name of the department of human services to Services Australia - has incurred no direct expenditure so far.
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