Massive backwards step: Australia to no longer has a Federal Arts Department

Scott Morrison has announced the arts department will be rolled into a department that will also oversee roads and rail.

Mr Morrison talked up the changes and mergers.

“Having fewer departments will allow us to bust bureaucratic congestion, improve decision-making and ultimately deliver better services for the Australian people,” he said.

Morrison’s round of “congestion busting” changes may have exactly the opposite affect Image Crikey

“The new structure will drive greater collaboration on important policy challenges”.

This is part of a major overhaul in Canberra. Eighteen departments are being reduced to fourteen and five departmental heads are losing their jobs. There will be massive mergers of bits and pieces of various departments. If there is a rationale for this, Scott Morrison did not explain it.

It is difficult to understand how merging a department that is charge of the arts: music, drama, ballet, painting et cetera with the department that is charge of building roads is going to streamline decision-making and communication. This is blatant nonsense.

What it will do is submerge a relatively small department into a mega department where it is likely to be overwhelmed by the internal politics and where its struggles to maintain its budget may become increasingly difficult to the detriment of the Arts in Australia.

This can only be seen as a retrograde step and one wonders why the Morrison government decided to do this and on whose advice.

One can only expect that funding to the arts will decline in the future and that the smaller community and regional groups that are reliant on federal funding will wither and disappear.

While the Prime Minister may think that these mergers ” will allow us to bust bureaucratic congestion, improve decision making and ultimately deliver better services for the Australian people,” there is no guarantee of that.

In fact, absolutely the opposite is likely to happen.

Anyone who has been through the merger of a large organisation will tell Mr Morrison what will happen in the new merged organisations.

There will be months, if not years, of internal struggles as battles for budgets and political power are fought out. During these periods much of the real work of the organisation comes to a halt.

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