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 October 2014, following the federal election, the Commonwealth public sector has consisted of 18 departments of state in 16 portfolios: