Public sector reforms step in right direction

03 May, 2017

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia (CCI) has strongly welcomed the State Government’s plan to amalgamate state departments from 41 to 25 by the middle of the year.

Premier Mark McGowan announced the changes last week and said it also included a major reshuffle of chief executives. 

New directors general will be instructed to deliver a 20 per cent reduction in the 521-member Senior Executive Service, the State’s highest paid bureaucrats.

Public servants will also be called upon to identify examples of waste, inefficiency, duplication and red tape that can be eliminated to improve the public sector.

McGowan said the significant reform was aimed at creating collaborative departments focused on whole-of-Government objectives and delivering services in the most efficient way, including using new technology.

"This is the most significant reform of the public sector for a long time; we are not just changing the name on the door,” he said.

"I'm ushering in new leadership, new departmental mandates and new opportunities for the public sector to drive substantial long-term change and maximise each opportunity to deliver better services to the community.”

CCI Chief Executive Officer Deidre Willmott said the announcement was a powerful step forward in repairing the budget, which would help WA regain the all-important AAA credit rating.

“Reducing public sector spending is critical to repairing the WA budget position, regaining the AAA credit rating and attracting investment, so business welcomes today’s announcement from the State Government,” she said.

“A stable state budget is vital in attracting business investment, which will see more new projects come on line, increased business growth and more jobs created for workers.

“In difficult economic times business has had to make many tough decisions, so the WA business community welcomes the State Government upholding their key election promise to do the same and bring some private sector efficiencies to the public sector.”

Willmott said CCI had long called for the merging of government departments to drive savings and create greater efficiencies, not only for the benefit of the public purse, but for a better service experience for businesses and consumers – excessive government departments create red tape, confusion and a lack of consistency for industry, which hinders business growth overall.”

One of the biggest changes will be the merger of the Department of State Development, Department of Commerce and WA Tourism Commission into the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development will merge the Departments of Agriculture and Food, Regional Development, Fisheries and Regional Development Commissions. 

The Department of Community Services will encompass the Departments of Child Protection and Family Support, Housing, Disability Services Commission and part of the Department of Local Government and Communities.

The rest of Local Government and Communities as well as the Departments of Culture and the Arts; Racing, Gaming and Liquor and Sport and Recreation will become the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.