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department

By JONATHAN GAUL

The Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, is now planning to split his department into two separate organisations, each with its own Public Service permanent head.

His press secretary, Mr A. Eggleton, said yesterday that Mr Gorton had held a series of conferences with the chairman of the Public Service Board, Sir Frederick Wheeler, on the question.

The department is to be divided into a cabinet sec retariat and a policy divi sion to handle other rou tine functions.

Mr Eggleton said the division of the department had been caused by the pressure of the Prime Minister's duties. Some de lay was also caused by the absence of the present permanent head of the de

parlinent, Sir John Bunt-J

ing, family reasons.

However, Mr Gorton j expected the re-organisa tion to be completed "quite rapidly".

Mr Gorton initiated the reorganisation within his own department because he believed the work load on its permanent head had become excessive.

Not enough

time

He believes that the I Cabinet duties -which Sir

John Bunting is required I to undertake [eaves him in- I sufficient time for policy matters. This problem

would be_enlarged by the I

Prime Minister's plans to expand the system of

Cabinet committees. !

As Secretary of the

Prime Minister's Depart-1 ment, Sir John " attends meetings of the full Cabi

net and its committees and [ communicates their policy ' decisions to the various |

departments.

This function, as head of the Cabinet secretariat, is the base of the power and influence which attaches to the job of Secretary of the Prime Minister's Depart ment and establishes his claim as Canberra's fore most public servant.

Think-tank'

division

Earlier reports have sug gested that Mr Gorton in tended only to split his department _ into sections,

rather than into two separ ate and autonomous organisations.

He planned to bring two new men into the re organised policy section the chairman .of the Uni

versities Commission, Mr I C. L. S. Hewitt, as the head of a "think-tank" policy division, and Mr K. Jones, a senior official of his old department, Edu cation and Science, as' his private secretary.

Without creating another department, as it is now maintained was planned from the beginning, this proposal would have in

volved the replacement of I Sir John Bunting. 1

Such a move would have breached the prin

ciple that the bureaucracy | is, and should appear to be. entirely free from poli

tical appointments. The ! possibility has in recent weeks caused some mis givings in the senior echelons of the Common wealth Public Service.

Influence

intact

Yesterday's announce ment seems to indicate that Sir John Bunting will take over the Cabinet Secre tariat with the great pro portion of his influence

I intact.

Mr Hewitt is likely to take over the new policy oriented Prime Minister's Department with the status of a permanent head.

However, Mr Gorton and Sir Frederick Wheeler have still to resolve the difficult problems _ of just exactly what functions will stay under Sir John Bunt ing and those that will_ be attached to Mr Hewitt's policy department.

The solution to these problems will indicate how far Mr Gorton wiH have succeeded in^ his aim of establishing his otvn power ful policy machine.

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