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Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade :: 2001-2002 Annual Report
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Output 3.1 Quality and quantity information

Page Contents

Quality indicators

  • Satisfaction, particularly of ministers, with the provision and impact of public diplomacy and information activities in Australia and the degree to which a positive image of Australia is projected internationally and Australia's profile raised.
  • Timeliness and relevance of cultural and media activities and publications.
  • Number of departmentally processed FOI and Archives requests not subject to requests for review and appeal.

Quantity indicators

  • Number of Australian performing groups, artists, exhibitors and other cultural visitors supported.
  • Number of public briefings given by departmental staff in Australia and overseas.
  • Number of other public diplomacy/cultural activities organised.
  • Number of media-related enquiries handled by the media liaison section.
  • Number of visits organised under the International Media and Special Visits Programs and the Cultural Award Scheme.
  • Number of publications produced and number of copies distributed.
  • Number of statistical services provided to external clients.
  • Number of treaties maintained on, and added to, the international treaties database.
  • Number of FOI requests processed.
  • Number of records assessed for international relations sensitivities before release under the Archives Act and number of completed requests for archival information.

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Satisfaction with public diplomacy

Portfolio ministers commented favourably on our public diplomacy activities, and provision of information to the Australian public and the media.

Mr Vaile praised the department's efforts in projecting an accurate and positive message about trade into the broader Australian community-emphasising the importance of our role in addressing criticisms of trade liberalisation and investment policy.

The department received positive feedback on our public affairs activities from Australian school teachers-who commended our initiative in speaking to teachers and students on trade and foreign policy-and, through our posts, expressions of appreciation from target audiences overseas.

We also received positive comment on our public information services from Australian business, state governments, other Commonwealth agencies, and foreign diplomatic missions in Australia. The 3300 copies of Australia in Brief that we provided for accredited journalists and visiting dignitaries attending CHOGM in March 2002 were particularly well received.

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Ministerial correspondence

Ministers require prompt and high quality replies to correspondence. This is an important means of responding to public interest in foreign and trade policy matters.

Timeliness in preparing responses to ministerial correspondence is monitored closely by the Senior Executive. The department allows one week for preparation of responses for ministers and two weeks for departmental replies. Our Parliamentary Correspondence Management System provides statistics and tracking facilities that have allowed comprehensive and effective management of ministerial correspondence. This system was further refined and improved during the reporting period. In 2001-02 over 7600 letters were received and processed. Approximately 99 per cent were processed on time. This was a substantial improvement over the performance of previous years.

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Cultural and media activities

The Australian media, both in Australia and abroad, praised the department's willingness and ability to provide accurate information in a timely manner, particularly on high-profile consular cases and on the progress of complex trade negotiations. When travelling abroad with portfolio ministers or the Prime Minister, media representatives regularly expressed appreciation for our assistance in facilitating accreditation to international media events, on-the-ground support, and liaison with ministerial media advisers.

Participants in the department's International Media Visits (IMV) program and Cultural Awards Scheme (CAS) reaffirmed the value of such visits in providing them with accurate first-hand perceptions of Australia and in allowing them to establish long term links with Australian counterparts.

Significant CAS and IMV participants who commented positively on their visits included:

  • Michel Rocard, former French prime minister and chair of the Terra Australis Committee, who undertook to highlight in France the commercial opportunities available in Australia in sectors such as food processing, space, mining, wine and environmental technology
  • Iris Zachmanidi, Chief Adviser (International Relations) of the Athens Cultural Olympiad 2001-04, who since her return to Greece has become a strong advocate for inclusion of Australian artistic content in the Cultural Olympiad program
  • a group of four senior United States trade and commodity writers who reported extensively and accurately on Australian views on the US Farm Bill, the proposed bilateral free trade agreement, trade liberalisation and the strength of the Australian economy.
  • four editors from major Jakarta-based newspapers who wrote balanced, positive articles on a range of issues, including Islam in Australia and the bilateral relationship. These articles highlighted cooperation on people smuggling, reported Australia's support for Indonesia's territorial integrity and promoted the strength of bilateral ties.
  • five ASEAN editors who visited Australia in June 2002 and four Japanese editors who came to Australia in February 2002.

The Australian cultural festival Next Wave Down Under, presented at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in October 2001, received outstanding reviews in the American press for the quality of the program and also its timeliness.

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Publications

The Prime Minister, Mr Howard, commended the Trade Outcomes and Objectives Statement 2002 as a comprehensive and appropriate account of the efforts being made to deliver trade gains.

Mr Downer commended the department's work on the publications Facing North: A Century of Australian Engagement with Asia, and Changing Corporate Asia: What Business Needs to Know.

This latter report, and the two other reports produced by the department's Economic Analytical Unit-on Latin America and India-received strong commendation from business groups, regional analysts and governments as well. They also received favourable press coverage, despite some critical responses to minor aspects of the analysis on India.

The department's report titled The Big End of Town and Australia's Trading Interests drew praise from leading business representatives, including a positive reference in a speech by the Chief Executive Officer of Qantas. Our publication titled Export EU: A Guide to the European Union for Australian Business was also well received.

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Freedom of information requests

The department processed 56 applications under the Freedom of Information Act 1982. We also met our obligations under the reporting requirements of sections 8 and 9 of the Act. We were asked to make four internal reviews of decisions under the provisions of section 54 of the Act. In one case, the applicant was unhappy with the results of the internal review and lodged an appeal with the AAT in accordance with section 55 of the Act. This appeal has yet to be heard by the tribunal.

For further reporting on the department's FOI arrangements and activities, see Appendix 6.

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Quantity information for output 3.1

Indicators 2001-02 2000-01
Number of Australian performing groups, artists, exhibitors and other cultural visitors supported. 1 687 1 386
Number of public briefings given by departmental staff in Australia and overseas. 3 073 3 162
Number of other public diplomacy/cultural activities organised. 1 427 1 285
Number of media-related enquiries handled by the media liaison section. [Note 1] 8 250 5 500
Number of visits organised under:
International Media Program [Note 2] 68 26
Special Visits Program 37 38
Cultural Awards Scheme [Note 3] 15 24
Number of publications produced and number of copies distributed. [Note 4] 403 375
Number of statistical services provided to external clients. [Note 5] 7 400 8 800
Number of treaties maintained on, and added to, the international treaties database. [Note 6] 2 629 2 600
Number of FOI requests processed. 56 73
Number of records assessed for international relations sensitivities before release under the Archives Act and number of completed requests for archival information. 1 616 1 133

1. This figure reflects a large number of enquiries following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

2. Fewer media representatives (26) were funded in 2000-01 because departmental resources were focused on journalists visiting Australia for the Sydney Olympics.

3. This figure represents a decrease in visits from 2000-01 due to the redirection of funds within the Cultural Awards Scheme to the Australian Performing Arts Market program which was held in February 2002 as part of the Adelaide Festival.

4. The department produces publications which are available to the public in hard copy, on CD-ROM or on our website. Approximately 1.55 million copies of publications were printed in hard copy during 2001-02. Details of publications produced or updated during the year in review are at www.dfat.gov.au

5. The department operates a consultancy service providing trade and economic data for Australian businesses and researchers. This figure refers to telephone, email, and fax enquiries made by external clients.

6. For information on treaties, see the Australian Treaties Database at www.info.dfat.gov.au/treaties

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