Council for Australian-Arab Relations (CAAR)

Establishment and Operation of the Council for Australian-Arab Relations

On 30 December 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Downer, and the Minister for Trade, Mr Vaile, announced the establishment of the Council for Australian-Arab Relations. In accordance with the Ministers' decision, the Council for Australian-Arab Relations was established with effect from 1 January 2003, for an initial period of three years, at the end of which it was reviewed and made permanent.

Purposes

The Council's function is to advance Australia's national interest by initiating and supporting activities designed to enhance awareness and understanding between the peoples and institutions of Australia and the Arab countries. In carrying out its mission the Council will aim to:

Structure and Membership

The Council will consist of a chair, plus not less than eight nor more than 12 other members, and a Secretariat provided by Middle East and Africa Branch (MAB), funded from within the resources of South Pacific, Africa and Middle East Division (PMD).

The Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, or a representative appointed by the Secretary, and the Managing Director of Austrade, or a representative appointed by the Managing Director, will be members of the Council.

The chair and the other members of the Council will be appointed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs with the agreement of the Minister for Trade on a part-time basis for terms of up to three years, but are eligible for re-appointment. Council members will be drawn from business, Government and the academic community.

Provided there are at least seven members of the Council, the Council will be able to operate notwithstanding other vacancies.

The chair and members may be reappointed, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs may terminate the appointment of the chair or a member at any time by notice in writing.

A member may resign his or her membership by notice in writing to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, but the resignation does not have effect until it is accepted by the Minister.

Neither the chair nor the other members of the Council will be employees of the Department or the Commonwealth by virtue only of their appointment to the Council.

The Council will not be a legal entity. Therefore the Council will not be able to enter into contracts, incur debts or spend funds. Instead, the Department will be able to enter into contracts and spend funds for the Council's purposes, in order to perform the Council's activities and implement its recommendations.

Functions

The Council has the functions to:

The Minister for Foreign Affairs may from time to time issue directives to the Council, and the Council will be bound by such directives.

To meet government accountability requirements, the First Assistant Secretary, South Pacific, Africa and Middle East Division (FAS PMD), will have responsibility for approving the expenditure of funds, the engagement of consultants and entering into contracts by the Department for the performance of the activities mandated by the Council's business plan and for other matters related to the carrying out of the Council's purposes.

The Secretariat will have functions to:

15. In carrying out their functions, Council members and the Secretariat will confer as necessary with Austrade, and other relevant agencies and bodies.

Activities

The Council will determine the activities to be undertaken in each year in its annual business plan, which may be modified by the Council from time to time. The activities will be directed towards achieving the Council's purposes and may include (but not be limited to) the following:

The annual business plan will be notified to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who may disallow or amend it at any time.