Annual Report 2004-2005

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OUTPUT 3.1: Public information services and public diplomacy

Output 3.1 Quality and quantity information

Quality indicators

Quantity indicators

Satisfaction with public diplomacy

Portfolio and other ministers commented favourably on the department's efforts to promote Australia's image abroad and to enhance understanding of, and support for, the national foreign and trade policy agenda in Australia.

Specifically, Mr Downer and Mr Vaile paid tribute to our role in projecting accurate and positive messages to overseas and domestic stakeholders about trade liberalisation initiatives, including free trade agreements (FTAs) with China, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, ASEAN and New Zealand and continuing work on the AUSFTA, and World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations. Industry groups (agriculture, manufacturing, services and resources) and state governments expressed appreciation for the department's trade outreach programs, and complimented our web-based and other published resources, print runs of which were fully subscribed.

Senior government officials and senior executives of Australian companies were pleased with our successful promotion of a positive image of Australia internationally through the Aichi World Expo. The department received written letters of appreciation from many senior visitors to the Australian Pavilion.

The department's public advocacy programs in consular crises (such as the Indian Ocean tsunami) and high-profile consular cases (for example, the Douglas Wood hostage situation in Iraq) were praised by ministers and families of those affected. The public and travel industry reaction to our public information programs in support of the introduction of the new Australian Passports Act 2005—including the positioning of posters at international airports and elsewhere—has been generally positive although the programs have been in place a relatively short time.

Mr Downer, Senator Patterson and senior staff of the Office of the Status of Women commended the department on its production of an historical display featuring Australian women in international diplomacy, which was launched both in Canberra and New York and has since toured other international venues, promoting the diverse roles played by Australian women in achieving Australia's foreign and trade policy goals.

We established websites to provide information on, and promote national interests in, key events (including our consular response to the tsunami). Positive feedback from users on other specific websites (such as smartraveller and sites on Australia's trade policies) underscored the department's successful use of new technologies to support its broad public information agenda.

A well-targeted International Media Visits program produced extensive and constructive media reporting on key foreign and trade policy initiatives such as FTAs, our relations with ASEAN countries and Australia's policies in the South Pacific. Feedback from participants, our overseas posts and external clients was uniformly positive. Senior media representatives from China, ASEAN, the Middle East and the Pacific commented favourably on the program. A member of the ASEAN media group visit commented that their visit 'met our objectives of communicating the extent of Australia's economic, trade and investment linkages in the region and underlining the strength of ties between Australia and ASEAN'.

The company NWS Australia LNG praised the visit of three Chinese media representatives organised by the department as 'very important for the Sino–Australia relationship'.

A targeted program of group and individual briefings conducted by senior officials with Australian media representatives resulted in broad and better informed coverage of key portfolio interests, including FTAs, biometric passports, international security issues (including Australia's terrorism White Paper), WTO negotiations, East Timor maritime boundary and resource issues negotiations and Australia's uranium export policy.

The Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Corporation commended the department on its assistance for the Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton Relay, saying we 'provided tremendous support to the team with their advice here in Australia and on the ground in the destinations that the Relay has visited.'

The department's Cultural Awards Scheme (CAS) visit program attracted appreciative comments from international visitors and led quickly to concrete outcomes, such as programming of Australian artists into international events. CAS clearly strengthened our links with overseas arts industries. Some significant outcomes from CAS visits included:


The department produced a range of publications designed to provide general information on Australia, plus more specialised publications on Australia's foreign and trade policy and the economic and political climate of other countries. Publications are available in hard copy, online, on CD or downloadable PDF files.

Economic publications attracted strong media coverage. Solomon Islands: Rebuilding an island economy was featured in a full-page article in the Australian Financial Review and in an editorial in Solomon Star. It also was reported widely on radio in Solomon Islands and on ABC Radio Australia News. Papua New Guinea: The road ahead was covered in most of the major Australian and both Papua New Guinean dailies. Malaysia: An economy transformed attracted strong, positive media coverage in both Australia and Malaysia (New Straits Times and The Edge Malaysia). The publication was distributed to all participants and used extensively in a paper presented at the opening session of the Australia–Malaysia Free Trade Agreement Conference organised by the Australian APEC Studies Centre.

The key findings of the report Australia and the United States: Trade and the multinationals in a new era were included in a number of industry association newsletters and web page entries. The report was included in Austrade's Australian export update, the Industry Capability Network website and the Government's FTA website ( ).

Following a departmental review of our compilation of trade statistics, we introduced a new Trade Topics Quarterly and reduced from 10 to 7 the annual set of statistical publications. We produced three new PDF publications on Australia's trade statistics with East Asia, the European Union and the Americas.

Publications on Australia—Trading with the World were well received. Continuing demand for the popular Australia in brief saw a new edition produced and dispatched to all posts for international distribution. VIP guests visiting the Australian Pavilion at the Aichi Expo welcomed our distribution of a bilingual text Australia–Japan Connections, which addressed cultural, trade and education links, as a high quality memento of their visits.

The department's latest publications of historical documents on Australian foreign policy, Australia and the Formation of Malaysia 1961–1966 and Australia and the Colombo Plan, were positively received in Australia and the region. Prime Minister Howard presented a copy of the Malaysian volume to the Malaysian Prime Minister who commented favourably. The Malaysian media and senior Malaysian officials welcomed the publication's launch. The Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore said it provided a 'useful third-party account of many significant events in the early years of Singapore's nationhood and shared history with Malaysia'. In his launch of the Colombo Plan volume, Mr Downer noted the historical dimensions of Australia–Asia people-to-people contacts and educational engagement.

Freedom of information requests

Of the 87 freedom of information requests processed, 79 were not subject to review and appeal. No complaints were received in the department under the Privacy Act 1988 during the reporting period.

Quantity information for output 3.1

Indicators 2004–05 2003–04
Number of Australian performing groups, artists, exhibitors and other cultural visitors supported 1 439 1 634
Number of public briefings given by departmental staff in Australia and overseas 2 434 1 985
Number of other public diplomacy/cultural activities organised 1 641 1 463
Number of media-related inquiries handled by the media liaison section 8 700 6 700
Number of visits organised under:
International Media Program 33 41
Special Visits Program 32 32
Cultural Awards Scheme 15 15
Number of publications produced and number of copies distributed1 367 473
Number of statistical services provided to external clients 8 812 8 587
Number of treaties maintained on, and added to, the international treaties database2 3 073 2 677
Number of Freedom of Information requests processed 87 68
Number of records assessed for international relations sensitivities before release under the Archives Act 1983 and number of completed requests for archival information 1 146 674
  1. The department continues to distribute a substantial number of publications in hard copy form. However, given our increasing use of the website to disseminate publications—including to our overseas posts—the quantity of hard copy documents distributed has become a less meaningful indicator.
  2. For information on treaties, see the Australian Treaties Database at .

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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Annual Report 2004–2005
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