Annual Report 2005-2006

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1. Overviews2. Performance3. Corporate4. Appendixes5. Financials6. Glossaries and Compliance Index

Your location: Performance > Outcome 1 > Output 1.1 > Quality and quantity information

OUTPUT 1.1: Protection and advocacy of Australia's international interests through the provision of policy advice to ministers and overseas diplomatic activity

Output 1.1 Quality and quantity information

Quality indicators

Quantity indicators

Provision of policy advice, analysis, speeches and briefings

The department received informal feedback on its performance through regular contact between the department's Senior Executive and portfolio ministers, regular interaction between ministers' offices and departmental staff, and our support for ministers' international visits. The department interacted regularly with the Prime Minister and non-portfolio ministers on foreign and trade policy issues.

Structured mechanisms for ministers to provide performance feedback included: regular policy discussions ministers hold with the Secretary and members of the Senior Executive; ministers' comments on the department's formal written advice—mainly in the form of submissions and briefings; and meetings between ministers and our heads of mission at the start of, mid-way through, and sometimes at the end of their postings.

Through these means, ministers expressed strong satisfaction with the department's policy work, including our advice, analysis, speeches and briefings.

We regularly convene and attend inter-departmental meetings in Australia and overseas on a range of issues that have an international dimension, such as international security, counter-terrorism, transnational crime, the environment, international legal issues and United Nations reform. In our business planning processes, such as the Post Evaluation Report process (see Section 3: Corporate management and accountability, for more information), other government agencies provided very positive feedback on the department's input to whole of government policy development.

Ministerial submissions and briefings

The department produced 2359 written submissions and 3217 briefings during the reporting period. Portfolio ministers expressed strong satisfaction with this policy advice and analysis.

Ministerial correspondence

The department received and processed 11 505 items of ministerial correspondence in 2005–06, a decrease of 2127 letters over the previous year. All responses were provided in the specified timeframe, which is one week for draft replies for ministerial signature and two weeks for departmental replies.

Questions on notice

The department prepares written responses for ministers' consideration to Questions on Notice (QON) asked by parliamentary members and to questions taken on notice during appearances by the department before parliamentary committees. The department prepared responses to 351 QON.

Protection and advancement of Australia's international interests

In their regular meetings with the department's Senior Executive and in written comments on departmental submissions, ministers and the parliamentary secretaries expressed satisfaction with the department's work in promoting the interests of Australia and Australians internationally. Our performance reporting against Outcome 1 and in the Secretary's Review indicate the breadth of issues against which outcomes were achieved.

Capacity to respond to international developments

The department's performance reporting against Outcome 1 provides examples of our capacity to respond effectively to significant international developments.

The department maintained flexible staffing arrangements that allowed quick responses to priority or emerging issues. For example, we established crisis centres and emergency call centres, as needed, to respond to overseas consular emergencies. We continued to expand the number of staff trained in crisis management and/or who have worked in our crisis centre. These staff were quickly re-deployed to line areas of the department once the surge in activity subsided. We initiated an organisational restructure to improve the department's delivery of key policy, advocacy and service delivery outcomes (see Section 3: Corporate management and accountability, for more information).

Quantity information for output 1.1
Indicator 2005–06 2004–05
Scope and composition of the DFAT-managed diplomatic network See Appendix 12 (Summary of the overseas network)
Number of units of policy advice delivered:
Ministerial submissions 2359 2 127
Cabinet submissions 23 29
Ministerial correspondence 11 505 13 632
Questions on notice 351 429
Speeches1 138 176
Briefings not under submission2 3217 3 158
Cabinet briefings for ministers 83 56
Meeting briefs 357 349
Number of consultations conducted with other Commonwealth agencies, state and territory governments, and business and non-government organisations in the context of the department's development of foreign and trade policy advice3 33 777 36 552
Number of representations made to other governments and international organisations in support of Australia's international interests4 40 357 38 101
Number of international meetings or negotiations attended, including on behalf of other Commonwealth agencies5 11 081 10 835
Number of official programs prepared for portfolio ministers and senior officials6 987 877
Number of official programs prepared for the Prime Minister, other Commonwealth ministers and senior officials6 1077 881
Number of reporting cables produced by our overseas posts 99 587 86 468
Number of occasions on which the department has contributed to the development of policies by other Commonwealth agencies 5280 5 760
Number of Foreign Affairs Council meetings organised7 2 2
Number of Trade Policy Advisory Council meetings organised 0 1
  1. Includes speaking notes for both ministers, the parliamentary secretaries and the Senior Executive.
  2. This figure includes daily consular briefings for ministers and senior officials.
  3. This number includes semi-formal consultations such as telephone conversations and email correspondence.
  4. 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.
  5. This figure includes meetings with non-government organisations and business representatives.
  6. This figure includes programs prepared for senior officials (broadband 4 level and equivalent and above).
  7. Lists of members of the Foreign Affairs Council and Trade Policy Advisory Council can be found on the department's website at and

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