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Appendix 1: Ministerial responsibilities
Mr Downer has overall responsibility for the portfolio, including the department’s administration and management, and all non-trade international political, multilateral and legal issues (including the treaty-making process), consular and passport functions, and development assistance matters. In addition, he is responsible for all human rights, arms control and disarmament issues, peacekeeping, and the non-trade related aspects of the UN system. Mr Downer shares responsibility for international security issues with the Minister for Defence. International environment issues, while primarily the responsibility of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, often require close consultation and occasionally joint decision by both portfolio ministers. Mr Downer has primary carriage of non-trade related public affairs activities and questions of protocol. He also has responsibility for the administration and management of AusAID, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, and the Australia–Japan Foundation.
Mr Vaile is responsible for all trade matters—bilateral, regional and multilateral—and has responsibility for Austrade, the Export Market Development Grants Scheme and the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC). Regional trade interests include APEC and the ASEAN Free Trade Area–Closer Economic Relations (AFTA–CER). Multilateral interests include the WTO and OECD. Mr Vaile consults sectoral ministers, State and Territory Governments and industry to ensure that the Government’s international trade efforts are effective and aimed at improving Australia’s export and investment performance. As part of his travel overseas to promote and advance Australian trade and commercial interests, Mr Vaile often leads industry missions.
Senator Patterson is responsible for the day-to-day management of issues related to the aid program and provides assistance to Mr Downer in carrying out his responsibility for aid policy. Senator Patterson is actively involved in encouraging an understanding of Australia’s official development cooperation program among the wider community. She liaises closely with the non-government organisation (NGO) community, business groups and other key stakeholders in relation to overseas aid. Senator Patterson is the Government’s Special Representative on Demining, which involves representing Australia at relevant conferences. Senator Patterson is also strongly engaged in promoting recognition of the efforts of Australian volunteers in developing countries.
Further information about the Ministers and the Parliamentary Secretary is available from the department’s internet website www.dfat.gov.au/minister