Portfolios in the Australian Government are established through the Administrative Arrangements Order (AAO). Acting on advice from the Prime Minister, the Governor-General appoints Ministers, establishes departments of state (also referred to as 'portfolio departments') and formally allocates executive responsibility through the AAO.

The AAO specifies the matters dealt with by each department of state and the legislation administered by each minister. In accordance with the AAO, most of the general executive powers of the Commonwealth are exercised by ministers or their departments. A portfolio may encompass more than one Department of State. For example, the Defence Portfolio consists of the Department of Defence and the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

Since 1 July 2022, the Commonwealth public sector has consisted of 16 departments of state in 15 portfolios:

  • Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
  • Attorney-General's
  • Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water
  • Defence
  • Education 
  • Employment and Workplace Relations
  • Finance
  • Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Health and Aged Care
  • Home Affairs
  • Industry, Science and Resources
  • Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts
  • Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Social Services
  • Treasury
  • Veterans’ Affairs (Defence portfolio)

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