What the shake-up of the WA public sector means for you

Renee Wilkinson 31 Jan 2017
2 mins

Significant plans to reshape the WA public sector may be making many  nervous. Account Manager Renee Wilkinson looks at what shifts are on the cards.  

Many Cannings Purple clients deal with government departments on a daily basis to ensure projects are progressed, licence conditions are met and permits are maintained.

Should Labor win government next month, one thing that is certain to change is the way the WA public sector is structured.

In a speech to CEDA last year, Mark McGowan said a Labor-led government would cut back the public service – with a view to reducing the number of agencies by 20% and cutting the Senior Executive Service (senior public service executives) by 20%.

He added changes could include remerging Treasury and Finance; Planning and Transport; or creating the Department for Economic Development by remerging State Development and Mines and Petroleum.

Casting our mind back to the early 2000s, the newly elected Gallop Government too implemented a range of changes to reduce the number of government departments from 46 to 21 – merging some and reclassifying others (today there are 30).

While we cannot predict the future, we can look at how the WA public sector was shaped the last time Labor was in power (departments relevant to Cannings Purple’s clients).


Department of Planning and Infrastructure

The Department of Planning and Infrastructure was formed by amalgamating the Ministry for Planningand the Department of Transport and oversaw the Western Australian Planning Commission and the Public Transport Authority.

Then in 2009 the Department was reformed into the current Department of Transport and Department of Planning, with State Land Services and Pastoral Leases being transferred to the newly formed Department of Regional Development and Lands (which was later again split into two departments).


Department of Industry and Resources

In 2001, the Department of Minerals and Energy and the Department of Resources Development were merged to form the Department of Mineral and Petroleum Resources. 
At the same time the Department of Commerce and Trade was merged with strategic elements of theDepartment of Contract and Management Services. A further review in 2003 saw these new departments merge to become the Department of Industry and Resources.
The department was divided into business groups: –

  • Mineral and Petroleum Resources
  • Business and Trade Services
  • Investment Services.

In 2009, the DoIR was again split into the Department of Mines and Petroleum and the Department of State Development and the Department of Commerce.


Department of Local Government and Regional Development

The department combined regional functions and programs previously undertaken by the former Department of Commerce and Trade and the former Department of Local Government. It included overseeing the regional development commissions which continued to exist, but were stripped of their departmental status.

Today the Department of Regional Development and the Department of Local Government and Communities are again separate entities.


Department of Environment, Water and Catchment Protection

The Department of Environment, Water and Catchment Protection  was formed from the amalgamation of the Water and Rivers Commission and key functions of the Department of Environmental Protection.  It was responsible for environmental monitoring and licensing, separate from the independent Environmental Protection Authority.

Today the Department of Water and the Department of Environmental Regulation are, again, separate.


Renee Wilkinson and Cannings Purple’s Government Relations team have extensive experience working with ministers and in ministerial offices and are experts in designing and implementing strategies to ensure clients engage effectively with government. Contact Renee.


Renee Wilkinson More from author

Renée is an experienced and award-winning stakeholder engagement and government relations professional with more than twenty years in the communications industry.

A consultant with Cannings Purple for 13 years, Renee has experience developing and implementing effective strategies in the resources, infrastructure, agriculture, health and education sectors.

She works with clients from early project stages through to official opening (and beyond) to ensure stakeholders at the corporate, government and community levels are engaged suitably to help clients reach project goals.

Prior to joining Cannings Purple, Renee worked in communications roles in the state Government, including time with the WA Health Minister.

Her stakeholder engagement work with the development of an inner-city women’s prison was recognised nationally by the Public Relations Institute of Australia’s Golden Target Awards. Renee holds a Bachelor of Commerce and is a qualified IAP2 Practitioner.

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