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Part 2: About the department

Resources, energy and tourism are important sectors of the Australian economy, underpinning regional development, generating wealth and national income and generating direct and indirect jobs. These sectors are at the forefront of the economic and environmental challenges facing Australia.RET's portfolio agencies[3]


  • Geoscience Australia
  • National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority
  • Tourism Australia

The department reports to the Minister for Resources and Energy, the Minister for Tourism and the Minister Assisting on Tourism. The total appropriation to the department in 2012–13 was $819.5 million.[4]

The department's Corporate Plan 2009–2013 describes RET's overarching objective as enhancing Australia's economic prosperity by improving the productivity, competitiveness, security and sustainability of the resources, energy and tourism sectors through the provision of high-quality policy advice and program delivery services for the Australian Government.

The department's strategic direction, as set out in the corporate plan, is structured around five key areas:

  1. strategic policy development
  2. enhancing productivity and international competitiveness
  3. enhancing environmental and social sustainability
  4. enhancing national security
  5. building organisational capacity

The department has started developing a new corporate plan that will be anchored against the themes of productivity, sustainability and security.

While RET is primarily a policy agency, it has significant program management responsibilities, with approximately 20% of staff directly employed to administer 17 programs with estimated expenditure from 2013–14 to 2016–17 of $2.4 billion..[5]

The department's policy and program activities involve a significant level of engagement with a wide range of stakeholders, including a number of other Australian Government policy departments and central agencies, industry associations and peak bodies, companies, small businesses, privately and state-owned utilities, and resources and energy regulatory bodies.

RET is actively involved in national policy discussions with the states and territories on resources, energy and tourism matters. The department contributes to national policy reform on resources and energy matters through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), specifically through the Standing Council on Energy and Resources (SCER) and the Tourism Minister's Council. The department provides the secretariat functions for the SCER, leads key working groups and supports the Minister as Chair.

As of July 2013, the department employed 731 staff, across seven divisions. The department also provides staff and support services to ARENA. [6]

Figure 2 RET Organisational Chart

RET's organisational structure and divisional responsibilities are illustrated below.

The role of each of area is listed here:

  • Resources Division: provides policy and legislative advice, administers legislation and provides administrative support to the government on issues related to the resources sector.
  • Energy Division : provides policy advice and supports activities in relation to the ongoing development of Australia's liquid fuel, electricity and gas markets and energy security issues. This includes providing secretariat support for the SCER under the COAG.
  • Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics: an economic research unit which provides independent, high-quality economic research, data, analysis and advice to government, industry and other stakeholders on issues affecting Australia's energy and resource sectors.
  • Corporate Services Division: provides a range of essential services, policy and advice across the department.
  • Tourism Division: works on a range of tourism policies, projects, programs and research to strengthen Australia's tourism industry, and to grow Australia's tourism market share in a volatile and competitive global market.
  • Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Division: provides policy advice and program delivery to support significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through enhanced uptake of emerging energy technologies and industrial-scale energy efficiency.
  • Energy Efficiency Division: develops and promotes energy efficiency policies, programs and regulations, focusing on activities at community and consumer level where there are barriers to cost-effective abatement measures.
  • Office of Spatial Policy: established within the department in July 2011 and is responsible for facilitating and coordinating spatial data management across government agencies.

The majority of departmental staff are located in Canberra, with 43 staff located elsewhere around Australia (Perth, Melbourne and Newcastle) and three posted internationally (China, India and France). The gender balance is 57% female (APS average is 58%). Of the Senior Executive Service (SES) ranks, 34% are female (APS average is 40%). The average age of the department's staff is 39 years (APS average is 43 years) and the average length of APS service is 8.5 years (APS average is 9 years).[7]

3 This review considered the capability of the department and does not include a review of portfolio agencies.

4 Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism Portfolio Budget Statement 2013–14.

5 Ibid.

6 ARENA is an independent Commonwealth authority and a portfolio agency of RET, and staff numbers are included as part of the departmental total.

7 APSC Australian Public Service Employee Database.

Last reviewed: 
17 May 2018