Anthony Albanese will create a new mega-department of climate change, energy, environment, and water to drive the new Labor government’s policy agenda.
The prime minister has also removed the Australian federal police (AFP) from the home affairs department.
Albanese commenced Labor’s post-election shake-up of the bureaucracy earlier this week by appointing the former University of Melbourne vice-chancellor Glyn Davis to head up his department.
Davis, mooted as a potential prime minister’s department head during the Rudd era, replaces Scott Morrison’s appointee Phil Gaetjens, a long-time Liberal staffer and treasury official.
Albanese, late on Wednesday, then unveiled his machinery of government changes after the swearing-in of his first cabinet and ministry.
In 2007, when Labor was last in government, Kevin Rudd established the Department of Climate Change. After the 2010 election, Julia Gillard bolstered the department by bringing energy into the new Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.
But that structure was abolished in 2013 by Tony Abbott when he repealed Labor’s carbon pricing scheme. The department’s functions were split between the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research, and Tertiary Education and the Department of Resources, Energy, and Tourism.
Albanese said he would establish a new Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water to advise the government on implementing its suite of climate policy measures, including the new 2030 emissions target and tweaks to the safeguard mechanism, and a reboot of the national environmental agenda.
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Albanese also plans to adjust the Department of Home Affairs. As part of a reconstruction remit, the department will gain responsibility for natural disaster response and mitigation, including the National Recovery and Resilience Agency.
But the AFP would shift to the attorney general’s portfolio, which would assume responsibility for criminal law enforcement and policy.
Peter Dutton first established the Department of Home Affairs. Its bureaucratic structure was championed by its current secretary, Mike Pezzullo, since he was an adviser to the former Labor leader, Kim Beazley, in 2001.
The AFP was one of five operational agencies and bodies incorporated into the home affairs portfolio. Others included the Australian Border Force, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (Asio).
The Australian Federal Police Association has campaigned to have the AFP excised from home affairs, arguing the structure was putting its independence and integrity at risk.
Dutton’s desire to create the super-department was also controversial within the Turnbull government. George Brandis, who served as Turnbull’s attorney general, reportedly used a farewell speech at Asio to raise concerns about the power and scope of the home affairs apparatus.
As part of his bureaucratic changes, Albanese has also chosen to rename the Department of Health as the Department of Health and Aged Care. The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, and Communications would also be renamed the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications, and the Arts.
He has also shifted responsibility for data policy, including the Digital Transformation Agency, to the Department of Finance.