There are hundreds of government agencies across Australia that operate in different jurisdictions with varying purposes, powers and responsibilities. New agencies are often set up by governments to address certain areas that are of a high priority, as they aim to enhance efficiency, focus and outcome. In Victoria, the Andrews Labor Government have been very active in their willingness to create new government agencies. Below are five recent agencies that point to the priorities of the Andrews Labor Government to build transport infrastructure, progress renewable energy reform, and respond to Victoria’s devastating Black Summer Bushfires in 2019-2020. The creation of these agencies are not only a reflection of a government’s priorities but they also indicate how the Andrews Labor Government will entrench their desired legacy.
1. Solar Victoria
Solar Victoria was created as a portfolio entity within the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning in August 2018. It is responsible for the delivery of the Solar Homes Program which provides rebates and interest-free loans to Victorians to install solar panels, solar hot water or battery systems with the goal of assisting 778,500 Victorian households over a ten-year period. It is a key initiative in the Victorian Government’s efforts to tackle climate change and meet its renewable energy targets, in addition to reducing energy costs, boosting energy supply and creating jobs in the renewable energy sector.
2. Major Transport Infrastructure Authority (‘MTIA’)
The MTIA was established in January 2019 to oversee the Victorian Government’s ‘Big Build’ or the major transport projects in Victoria. It works closely with the Department of Transport and is made up of five project teams – Level Crossing Removal Project, North East Link Project, West Gate Tunnel Project, Major Road Projects Victoria and Rail Projects Victoria. The MTIA is well aligned with the core values of the Andrews Labor Government, which has held transport as a key priority since it was elected in 2014.
3. Bushfire Recovery Victoria
Bushfire Recovery Victoria was established in January 2020 in response to the devastating 2019-2020 bushfire season that significantly impacted large parts of regional Victoria. It was announced during the crisis, yet it is a dedicated and permanent agency devoted to working directly with communities to listen, help and deliver what they need to rebuild and recover following a major emergency. This is an example of an agency being established in an unprecedented crisis, which demanded government action. This authority reports directly to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services.
The establishment of VicGrid was announced in February 2021 as the new government body that will be responsible for managing the network of investments in electricity transmission needed to connect renewable energy resources across Victoria. It has been tasked with the overarching planning and development of Victorian Renewable Energy Zones (REZs), but its exact scope and function is not yet clear and is to be determined through industry and stakeholder consultation. Its creation goes against the national approach to energy reform and has been seen as a further move from the Andrews Labor Government, in frustration of the slow national energy reform, especially when it comes to renewable energy.
5. Victorian Skills Authority (‘VSA’)
The VSA was established in July 2021 with the mission to ensure that all Victorians can have access to the training they need to find secure work. It is aligned with the Labor Government’s commitment to jobs and skills, and is a key response to the recommendations in the Skills for Victoria’s Growing Economy Review (Macklin Review) which was led by former Federal Labor Minister Jenny Macklin. The VSA is intended to be the key link between the state’s industries, training providers, employers and communities, and will produce an annual Victorian Skills Plan to respond more efficiently and effectively to employment needs, and find new and improved ways to get students skilled and employed. It will champion the TAFE sector and provide leadership and collaboration on curriculum and teaching methods and sits under the Minister for Training and Skills.
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