Annual Report 2005-2006

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

Your location: Performance > Outcome 1 > Output 1.3 > Reporting against effectiveness indicators

OUTPUT 1.3: Services to other agencies in Australia and overseas (including Parliament, state representatives, business and other organisations)

Reporting against effectiveness indicators

On this page: Overview :: Parliament in Australia :: Services to attached agencies :: Services to business :: Market information and analysis :: Our network of state and territory offices :: Services to state governments and other agencies overseas and in Australia :: Outlook






In achieving whole of government objectives the department, including through our overseas posts, provided advice and assistance to parliamentary delegations, Australian government agencies overseas, Australian business and state governments. These outcomes helped advance our key foreign and trade policy goals, in particular as reported throughout outcome 1 and outcome 2.

Parliament in Australia

The department provided enhanced services to parliament and ministers, including support for parliamentary travel, providing information to parliamentary committees and assisting accountability to the public.

Parliamentary travel

The department provided assistance with 117 overseas visit programs for individual parliamentarians and parliamentary delegations, an increase from the 89 visits supported last year. The visits helped build links between the Australian Parliament and parliaments of other countries and provided opportunities to study and observe developments in various fields relevant to the Australian community.

We made suggestions and provided guidance on in-country travel, identified and made appointments with key people in fields of interest and provided written and oral background briefings on relevant foreign and trade policy matters. Members and Senators on many occasions commended the department for the assistance we provided for their overseas visits.

The department assisted with 15 visits to Australia by presiding officers, committees and delegations from parliaments of other countries, compared to 21 last year. We provided written briefs and talking points for the presiding officers and members of the Australian Parliament for their meetings with visiting parliamentarians.

Our work for the Parliament included assistance with official parliamentary delegation visits to:

In addition to supporting visits by official parliamentary delegations, the department assisted 72 federal parliamentarians undertaking study tours or attending conferences in Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East, compared to 71 last year.

Parliamentary committees

The department briefed and appeared before a range of parliamentary committees as outlined in Appendix 5. We answered 173 questions submitted in writing or taken on notice during Estimates hearings, which contained 555 individual sub-questions. This compared to 98 questions during Estimates hearings last year.

Questions on notice

Comparatively, portfolio ministers responded to a very high volume of written parliamentary Questions on Notice (also known as Questions in Writing in the House of Representatives). Together, portfolio ministers received 273 questions in the House (14.3 per cent of all questions asked on notice) and 78 questions in the Senate (7.0 per cent). The Minister for Foreign Affairs was asked more questions on notice in the House than any other minister in 2005–06 and the Minister for Trade was among the top ten recipients. The department assisted ministers to respond to this large volume of parliamentary questions by preparing accurate draft replies in a timely fashion.

Ministerial submissions and briefing

The department introduced the Min-Net ministerial workflow system to automate the production and registration of ministerial submissions and briefing and to provide a comprehensive, searchable database of policy advice and briefing to ministers.

The department produced 2359 ministerial submissions, 357 meeting briefs, 83 cabinet briefs, 23 cabinet submissions and 3217 briefs not under submission during the reporting period.

Ministerial correspondence

The department maintained its strong record of timely replies to ministerial correspondence—one of the principal means by which ministers explain government policy to the Australian community and respond to interest in foreign and trade policy matters. We refined our Parliamentary Correspondence Management System which contributed to more efficient processing of ministerial correspondence. The department received and processed 11 363 ministerial letters in 2005–06, a decrease of 2269 letters over the previous year. All responses were provided in the specified timeframe, unless otherwise agreed by ministers' offices. The department's Senior Executive closely monitored performance in this area by reviewing a monthly report which detailed the timeliness of responses and quality of drafting and identified issues of particular public interest.

Services to attached agencies

Under the Service Level Agreement (SLA) signed on 1 September 2004, the department provides management services, on a user-pays basis, to 26 agencies overseas. These services include human resources, financial and property services for both Australia-based employees and locally engaged staff. The SLA facilitates the efficient administration of government business overseas while avoiding duplication. Feedback from our SLA clients has been positive. Information and communication technology services are covered under a separate memorandum of understanding with attached agencies. Under separate arrangements the department provides payroll services to 13 agencies overseas.

Services to business

The department continued to support formal and informal mechanisms for business input into trade policy. A number of consultative processes, including the WTO Advisory Group and FTA Export Advisory Panel, provided opportunities for business to interact directly with Mr Vaile on the international trade and investment climate and the Government's approach to relevant trade negotiations. The department maintained regular public consultations with state and territory representatives, industry, non-government organisations and community groups to help inform the Government's approach to WTO and bilateral FTA negotiations. The department continued to deliver benefits to the business community through close consultation with the APEC Business Advisory Council.

Market information and analysis

The department continued to offer a consultancy service providing statistical information and advice, on a fee-for-service basis, to Australian businesses and researchers interested in overseas markets. The service specialises in trade and economic data, covering our trading and business relationships with over 220 countries and wider information about the international trade of over 100 countries that account for around 90 per cent of total world trade. The department produced a wide range of statistical publications covering the composition and direction of Australia's international trade in goods and services.

Our network of state and territory offices

Through our network of offices located in all states and the Northern Territory the department provided state and territory governments with a direct liaison point on foreign affairs and trade issues. In 2005–06, the state and territory offices extended their close relationship with local governments and helped coordinate the department's activities in the states. In consultation with the department in Canberra and overseas posts, they helped state premiers and ministers with their overseas visit programs.

Services to state governments and other agencies overseas and in Australia

Photo - See caption below for description
Ambassador to the Russian Federation Bob Tyson (centre) introduces Queensland Premier Mr Peter Beattie to Moscow Mayor Mr Yuri Luzhkov. Premier Beattie’s visit to Russia in June 2006 consolidated links between the Queensland Government and the City of Moscow through the signing of a protocol to promote cooperation in business, culture, science and technology, and the environment. Photo: Tatiana Balashova
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

The department played a significant role supporting visits overseas by state and territory ministers, parliamentarians and officials, as well as other Australian government officials and Federal ministers. By promoting business, tourism, education and people-to-people ties, the department's support for these visits further strengthened Australia's mature and diverse relationships with key regional partners. Examples included visits to:

We provided briefings, policy advice and other support for a wide range of Australian government agencies on international aspects of their agendas, activities and programs. The department arranged visit programs, participated in negotiations on bilateral agreements and facilitated and provided representation at international meetings on behalf of many other government agencies in pursuing a whole of government agenda. Some examples included:

The department continued to work in partnership with Austrade in Australia and overseas to achieve the Government's trade objectives. We helped Austrade with its trade promotion and facilitation roles by: providing high-level representations to governments on behalf of individual companies; close liaison on arrangements for public consultation programs for heads of mission and Senior Trade Commissioners; and joint 'badging' of public diplomacy activities involving both agencies.

In fulfilling its responsibilities under the Review of the Corporate Governance of Statutory Authorities and Office Holders (Uhrig Review) the department completed by the 31 March 2006 deadline assessments of its six portfolio bodies – the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC), AusAID, Austrade, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the Australia–Japan Foundation (AJF) and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS). The department assessed each body against one of the governance templates outlined in the Uhrig Review. As a result, changes were recommended to the governance arrangements for Austrade, ACIAR and the AJF. The department worked closely with Austrade to implement Austrade's change from a board to an executive management governance structure by 1 July 2006, well ahead of the implementation deadline set by the Department of Finance and Administration. Changes to the AJF are underway.


The department will continue to provide a high level of service to parliamentarians, state governments and other government organisations in delivering whole of government outcomes across our foreign and trade policy interests. We will manage parliamentary and public interest in our work through efficient handling of Parliamentary Questions on Notice and ministerial correspondence. We will continue to provide suitable mechanisms for business input to the Government's approach in key bilateral, regional and multilateral negotiations and work with other agencies, including Austrade, to promote the interests of Australian business overseas. We will continue to manage effectively the Service Level Agreement.

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