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Protection and advancement of Australia’s international interests through the diplomatic network and Canberra-based activity
Outputs 1.1 and 1.2 Quality and quantity information
- Satisfaction of portfolio ministers with the protection and advancement of Australia’s international interests, including the conduct and timeliness of bilateral and multilateral negotiations, representations, post reporting and the organisation of official programs.
- Maintenance by the department of a strong capacity to respond to international events.
- Satisfaction of portfolio ministers with the department’s policy advice, analysis, speeches and briefings, including the department’s coordination role with other agencies on policy issues which have an international dimension.
- Scope and composition of the DFAT-managed diplomatic network.
- Number of representations made to other governments and international organisations in support of Australia’s international interests.
- Number of international meetings or negotiations attended, including on behalf of other Commonwealth agencies.
- Number of official programs prepared for DFAT ministers and senior officials.
- Number of official programs prepared for the Prime Minister, other Commonwealth ministers and senior officials.
- Number of reporting cables produced by our overseas missions.
- Number of occasions on which the department has contributed to the development of policies by other Commonwealth agencies.
- Number of units of policy advice delivered, including ministerial and cabinet submissions, ministerial correspondence, and speeches and briefings including parliamentary briefings.
- Number of consultations conducted with other Commonwealth agencies, state and territory governments, business and non-government organisations in the context of the department’s development of foreign and trade advice.
- Number of Foreign Affairs Council and Trade Policy Advisory Council meetings organised.
Protection and advancement of Australia’s international interests
The department received informal feedback on its performance through the daily contact of the Senior Executive with portfolio ministers, the constant interaction between ministers’ offices and departmental employees at all levels, and cooperation in the conduct of ministers’ international visits and their participation in international meetings. There is also frequent interaction with the Prime Minister and non-portfolio ministers on foreign and trade policy issues.
Structured mechanisms for ministers to provide performance feedback include:
- the regular policy discussions ministers hold with the Secretary and members of the Senior Executive;
- ministers’ comments on the formal written advice—mainly in the form of submissions and briefing—provided by the department; and
- the calls our heads of mission make on the portfolio ministers at the commencement of, mid-way through, and sometimes also at the conclusion of their postings.
Ministers have expressed general satisfaction with the level, intensity, diversity, alacrity, and effectiveness of the department’s work. Following are some examples of this feedback.
- Much positive feedback was received for the department’s contribution to the planning and organisation of the World Economic Forum Asia Pacific Economic Summit held in Melbourne on 11–13 September 2000. Mr Downer praised the efforts of the departmental team under trying circumstances (such as efforts by protesters to disrupt the event).
- Mr Downer recorded in Parliament his appreciation for the work of the Australian delegation to the COP 6 climate-change conference in The Hague, and the efforts of the department in relation to human rights dialogue with Burma.
- Mr Vaile, along with business-sector participants, was impressed by the APEC Steering Business Forum hosted by the department in Melbourne in April 2001.
Capacity to respond to international events
The reporting against effectiveness indicators earlier in this report provides instances of appropriately timed and scaled responses to international events with significant consequences for Australia. The maintenance of ‘surge capacity’ to react to the unexpected—as opposed to the cultivation of corporate strengths in predicting, anticipating and shaping developments—was a basis of two major initiatives in the department’s corporate management during 2000–01: the strengthening of the network of overseas posts, and the promotion of working smarter principles to ensure that normal operations did not drain staff energies.
The department demonstrated its capacity by redirecting resources to be able to respond effectively to a number of events during the year. These included financial and security challenges in several states in our region and market access problems in several countries, as described in reporting against effectiveness indicators.
Provision of policy advice, analysis, speeches and briefings
Ministerial submissions and briefings
During the reporting period, the department produced over 1,500 written submissions and over 4,000 briefings for ministers’ consideration. Portfolio ministers expressed broad satisfaction with the department’s policy advice and analysis.
Possible Parliamentary Questions
Possible Parliamentary Questions (PPQs) are prepared for ministers during parliamentary sitting periods and are an important centralised record of policy positions on key foreign and trade policy issues of public interest. Ministers expressed satisfaction at the end of the reporting period with the department’s efforts to continue to improve both the quality and timeliness of PPQs, including through increased training of staff (83 staff undertook training in writing PPQs in 2000–01, compared to 70 in 1999–2000) and enhancements to the electronic PPQ database.
Speeches provided by the departmental speechwriters, in consultation with ministers’ offices and relevant areas of the department, were well received by ministers. We prepared 195 ministerial speeches—five more than during the previous year.
Quantity information [Note 1]
|Scope and composition of the DFAT-managed diplomatic network.||See Appendix 14|
|Number of representations made to other governments and international organisations in support of Australia's international interests. [Note 2]||20,760|
|Number of international meetings or negotiations attended, including on behalf of other Commonwealth agencies. [Note 3]||13,884|
|Number of official programs prepared for DFAT ministers. [Note 4]||61|
|Number of official programs prepared for the Prime Minister and other Commonwealth ministers. [Note 5]||130|
|Number of official programs prepared for Commonwealth senior officials, DFAT and other. [Note 6]||1,741|
|Number of reporting cables produced by our overseas missions. [Note 7]||72,770|
|Number of occasions on which the department has contributed to the development of policies by other Commonwealth agencies. [Note 8]||70|
|Number of units of policy advice delivered:|
|ministerial correspondence [Note 9]||7,691|
|briefings not under submission [Note 10]||4,069|
|cabinet briefings for ministers [Note 11]||110|
|Number of consultations conducted with other Commonwealth agencies, State and Territory governments, business, and non-government organisations in the context of the department's development of foreign and trade advice. [Note 12]||7,824|
|Number of Foreign Affairs Council meetings organised.||3|
|Number of Trade Policy Advisory Council meetings organised. [Note 13]||3|
1 Several of the indicators used for 1999–2000 were revised for 2000–01 (Click to view). Changes of collection methodology or in the definitions of items being counted are indicated in footnotes.
2 This information was collected by all areas of the department, including overseas posts, and collated centrally. The difficulty in defining what constitutes a representation, given our different operating environments overseas, means that this figure is necessarily an approximate one.
3 This information was collected by all areas of the department, including overseas posts, and collated centrally. The figure is still, necessarily, an approximate one. The 1999–2000 annual report counted representations as meetings; here they have been disaggregated.
4 This figure is based on work undertaken by each post; that is, it reflects the number of programs prepared on a country-by-country basis. Some transit arrangements that were counted as programs in the 1999–2000 annual report have been excluded here.
5 This figure is based on work undertaken by each post; that is, it reflects the number of programs prepared on a country-by-country basis.
6 This figure is based on work undertaken by each post; that is, it reflects the number of programs prepared on a county-by-country basis. Due to the way the information was collected by posts it is not possible to determine how many of these programs were prepared for DFAT officials and how many for other Commonwealth officials. This anomaly will be corrected in 2001–02.
7 This figure has been calculated using the total number of cables sent from overseas posts. Until December 1999, 4,000 to 5,000 reports per month were cabled from the Foreign Broadcasting Information Service (FBIS) in the United States. These reports are now accessible to DFAT staff via the FBIS website. In addition, e-mail has removed the need for some cables of an administrative nature.
8 This figure represents the number of requests from other departments for coordination comments on Cabinet Submissions.
9 We also received and processed 16,201 items of campaign mail.
10 This figure includes daily consular briefings for ministers and senior officials, which were not counted in the 1999–2000 annual report.
11 The figure of 1,659 that appeared in the department's 1999–00 annual report was a typographical error; the actual total was 169.
12 This information was collected by all areas of the department, including overseas posts, and collated centrally. The difficulty in defining what constitutes a consultation means that this figure is necessarily an approximate one.
13 Lists of members of the Foreign Affairs Council and Trade Policy Advisory Council can be found on the department's website at www.dfat.gov.au/fac and www.dfat.gov.au/trade/opening_doors/tpac.html respectively.