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     The actual administration of government activities in Australia is conducted via a series of Ministries, (Departments), each with a staff from the Australian Public Service, and headed up by a politician...the Minister.

     In Australia, there are several separate sets of Ministers and their departments, each dealing with similar affairs.

    Ministries at Federal level, working with the Federal Commonwealth Government, primarily are based in Canberra.  Similar ministries  exist in each of the six States and at Territorial level, working generally geographically out of the capital City in each State orTerritory.

    This means, for example,  that in Australia there are at least nine Ministries of Health, each  autonomous with a separate agenda and administration, plus nine Ministers of Health. In addition, many district councils will have similar departments, usually working with their relative Ministry, State or Territorial.

    In Federal, State or Territorial Ministries, politicians are appointed as a "Minister" by the party having power at any time in government. The appointment may be for past services, or on the basis of reward for long-service or other recognitions by the ruling party.

    In general, there is no requirement for the Minister to have any special expertise in the work of the particular Ministry they head up.

    For example, a current Minister for health is a lawyer, whose career and occupations are below. (See note 1 below)

     A Minister makes and implements decisions on government policies, most of which are handed down by the"cabinet", or senior politician.

    In governments using the "Westminster" system of government, Ministers are usually required to be members of one of the houses of Parliament or legislature, and are usually from the political party that controls a majority in the lower house of the legislature.













     The following is a list of the areas of administration which are  usually found in the two levels of government in Australia. Occasionally, there may be found mergers of these sectors in some states or territories


    Aged Care and Senior Australians



     Children and Families

     Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts

    Community Housing, Homelessness and Community Services

    Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs

     Defence Industry



    Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business

    Energy and Emissions Reduction


     Families and Social Services

    Finance, Charities and Electoral Matters


    Financial Technology

    Foreign Affairs

    Forestry and Fisheries


    Home Affairs

    Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs

    Indigenous Australians

    Industrial Relations

    Industry, Science and Technology

    Infrastructure and Transport and Regional Development

    International Development and the Pacific

     National Disability Insurance Scheme

    Natural Disaster and Emergency Management

     Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure

     Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government

    Regional Development and Territories

    Regional Tourism

    Resources and Northern Australia

    Road Safety and Freight Transport

     Superannuation, Financial Services


    The Public Service

    Trade, Tourism and Investment

     Veterans and Defence Personnel

    Vocational Education, Training and Apprenticeships

     Waste Reduction and Environmental Management

    Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance,


     Youth and Sport



    THE COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT, (COAG), was established in May 1992 after agreement by the then Prime Minister (Paul Keating), Premiers and Chief Ministers, and it first met in December 1992.

    The COAG meetings are chaired by the Prime Minister.  The COAG meets to debate and co-ordinate government activities between the federal and state or territorial governments and between the state and territorial governments themselves as well as issues affecting local government.

    To provide the cash for all these endeavours, the COAG has within it another council called the Council on Federal Financial Relations (the CFFR) and this Council is responsible for overseeing the financial relationship between the Commonwealth and the states and territories, including the Intergovernmental Agreement on Federal Financial Relations (the IGA FFR).

    This council, (the CFFR),is made up of Commonwealth and state and territory treasurers. The  website, ( https://www.coag.gov.au) has information on the federal financial relations framework, including all funding agreements under the IGA FFR.

    On average, the Commonwealth funds just under half of state and territory general government spending through financial grants.

    These grants include:

    1. General revenue assistance (primarily through GST distribution) which has no conditions on how states use the funding;
    2. A range of specific-purpose payments, to be spent on particular sectors or projects, such as education and health services; infrastructure projects; and national reforms such as improving outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

    COAG is supported by inter-jurisdictional, ministerial-level Councils. Collectively, these Councils constitute the COAG Council system.

    COAG Councils support COAG and allow it to focus on key national priorities. Councils provide a forum for intergovernmental collaboration and decision-making. They progress COAG priorities and referrals of work, along with other issues of national significance.

    In addition, the Councils develop policy reforms and other advice for COAG consideration, and oversee the delivery and review of reforms agreed by COAG.

    There are several COAG Councils:

    Federal Financial Relations Council
    Disability Reform Council
    Transport and Infrastructure Council
    Energy Council
    Skills Council
    Council of Attorneys-General
    Education Council
    Health Council
    Joint Council on Closing the Gap
    Indigenous Affairs Council
    Australian Data and Digital Council
    Membership and Operations

    The members of COAG councils are the Ministers (of the Commonwealth and each state and territory) with the relevant subject responsibility.

    Membership of COAG councils, may also include the President of the Australian Local Government Association when appropriate.

    Councils have either Commonwealth or rotating chairs. They are supported by a secretariat and, where relevant, senior officials and or/working groups.

    All the Councils are accountable to COAG through their chair. They are responsible for their own management, guided by terms of reference and work plans. 



    Note 1:

    As an example, these are the published career path qualifications and occupations, before entering Federal Parliament, of

    Greg Hunt,  Australian Federal Minister for Health   (2020):

    MA (Yale University).
    Schell Centre for Human Rights Fellowship, Yale Law School.
    University Prize, Final Year Thesis.
    BA(Hons) (University of Melbourne).
    LLB(Hons) (University of Melbourne).
    Articled Clerk, Malleson Stephen Jacques 1991-92.
    Associate to Chief Justice of the Australian Federal Court 1992.
    Fulbright Scholar and Teaching Assistant, Yale University 1992-94.
    Senior Adviser to the Leader of the Opposition, AJG Downer, MP 1994-95.
    Senior Adviser to the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, AJG Downer, MP 1995-96.
    Senior Adviser to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. AJG Downer, MP 1996-98.
    Chief, Australian Electoral Observer Mission to Cambodia 1998.
    Senior Fellow, Centre for Comparative Constitutional Law, University of Melbourne 1998-99.
    Engagement Manager, McKinsey and Co 1999-2001.
    Director of Strategy, World Economic Forum, Geneva 2000-01.








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