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



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

Overview

The department provided financial, human resource and property management services to 30 government departments and agencies with overseas representation and, in one instance, to the New Zealand Government. Information and communications technology services were provided to 44 agencies in Australia and overseas.

The department worked with business and state and territory governments to implement the Government’s trade policy, promotion and development priorities. Key foreign and trade policy goals were advocated to stakeholders and the department contributed to whole-of-government outcomes.

Parliament in Australia

The department continued to give high priority to the provision of services to Parliament, assisting federal parliamentarians and ministers by facilitating parliamentary travel, presenting information to parliamentary committees and fulfilling our public
accountability responsibilities.

Parliamentary travel

We assisted with 134 overseas visit programs for individual federal parliamentarians and parliamentary delegations, enhancing links between parliamentary institutions and giving parliamentarians the opportunity to study developments in relevant fields. As part of this assistance, we recommended and scheduled appointments with officials in their fields of interest, and written and oral background briefings on foreign and trade policy matters were provided. Advice was given on overseas in-country travel. Overseas visits were facilitated for parliamentary delegations to Ireland, Italy, Singapore, Indonesia, Bhutan, Mongolia, Kenya, Vietnam, the United States, Switzerland, France, Italy, Zimbabwe, Ghana, South Africa, Ethiopia, Brazil, Panama, Denmark, Sweden and Greece.

Incoming delegations

We assisted the Parliament with 12 visits to Australia by parliamentary delegations from other countries. We also provided the Presiding Officers with relevant country briefs and talking points for their use in meetings with visiting parliamentarians and foreign officials.

Parliamentary committees

The department briefed and appeared before a range of parliamentary committees as outlined in Appendix 6.

We answered 192 questions submitted in writing or taken on notice during Senate Estimates hearings. These contained 449 individual sub-questions.

Questions on notice

The department assisted portfolio ministers on responses to 80 written parliamentary Questions on Notice (also known as Questions in Writing). Of these, 29 were from the House of Representatives and 51 from the Senate.

Ministerial submissions and briefings

During 2010–11, the department produced 1545 ministerial submissions, 310 meeting briefs, 98 cabinet briefs and 26 cabinet submissions.

Ministerial correspondence

We received and processed 9596 ministerial letters in 2010–11, compared with 10 311 in 2009–10. Ministerial correspondence is used by portfolio ministers to communicate key government policy on foreign and trade-related matters to the Australian community and foreigners. We supported ministers in this by providing all responses within the specified timeframe, unless otherwise agreed by ministers’ offices.

Services to attached agencies

Under the Service Level Agreement (SLA), the department provided management services, on a cost-recovery basis, to 30 government departments, agencies and federally-funded bodies with overseas representation—and, in one instance, to the New Zealand Government. These services are provided in accordance with the Prime Minister’s Directive on the Guidelines for the Management of the Australian Government Presence Overseas.

The SLA sets out the obligations of the department and other agencies for management services and determines service delivery standards in the areas of financial, human resources and property management for Australia-based employees and locally engaged staff in posts managed by the department. Feedback from clients was positive.

A revised SLA was negotiated for one year commencing 1 July 2011. Negotiations for a longer-term agreement will commence in September 2011.

The department also provided information and communications technology services to 40 agencies in Australia and overseas under separate memorandums of understanding and an additional four agencies under a cost recovery arrangement. ICT MOU negotiations are underway with these agencies. Payroll services were provided to 15 agencies overseas (see Appendix 9).

Services to state governments and other agencies overseas and in Australia

The department liaises with state and territory governments to reaffirm and align our respective trade policy agendas as well as working together on the service delivery of trade programs.

Briefings and policy advice were provided to Australian government agencies on international aspects of their agendas, activities and programs. As part of support for whole-of-government activities, we arranged visit programs, took part in bilateral negotiations on agreements led by other agencies, and facilitated participation in and representation at international meetings on behalf of government agencies.

The department, including our overseas posts and state and territory offices (STOs), supported visits overseas by state and territory ministers, parliamentarians and officials, as well as other Australian government officials and Federal ministers. STOs remained instrumental in maintaining close communication with state and territory governments on foreign and trade policy matters.

Personal Profile:

Photo - See caption below for description
Ms Karen Lanyon, Director of the NSW State Office, presents at the Australia-Korea 50 years of Friendship event. Photo: Roxby Media

Karen Lanyon

Karen Lanyon’s position as State Director in the NSW State Office involves advocating Australia’s foreign trade and policy agenda to a broad audience. She strives to ensure the Commonwealth and NSW Governments work in synch to further Australia’s international agenda, provides assistance to one of the largest consular corps in the world, and liaises with a range of stakeholders, including business, community groups, education providers, media and cultural institutions.

Karen returned from Jakarta in 2008, where she headed the Embassy’s political, economic, media and cultural branch and led the team responsible for key milestones in Australia’s relations with one of its most important bilateral partners—such as the negotiation of the historic Lombok Treaty. Since 2009 she has led the department’s Public Diplomacy Branch, promoting Australia and its interests internationally through media and cultural programs, including the Australia Network, and has headed the Africa Branch, overseeing Australia’s rapidly expanding political and economic engagement with the African continent.

“No other organisation offers the opportunity to work on such a variety of cutting edge issues of real importance to all Australians with a talented and highly professional team of people dedicated to serving Australia and Australians overseas.”

Services to business

Trade policy coordination, business liaison and state and territory offices

The department’s active engagement with business on trade policy, including market access and domestic competition issues, helps to support and develop Australian business capability. Our STOs undertook public consultations on trade negotiations, supported trade missions and liaised with industry representatives, non-government organisations and community groups. In assisting business, the department has a collaborative and complementary relationship with Austrade.

Outreach activities by STOs included:

  • In June 2011, the Melbourne office hosted a seminar with the Grattan Institute entitled Trading our Way to More Jobs and Prosperity. During the seminar, Dr Emerson spoke about the Australian economy and the five principles underpinning the government’s trade policy.
  • The Brisbane office worked with Protocol Branch on the visit to Queensland by the diplomatic corps, hosted by Mr Rudd in April 2011.
  • The Perth office and Australian Passport Office promoted the smartraveller website at the Perth Travel and Holiday Expo in February 2011 and the Broome North West Expo in May 2011.
  • The Darwin office arranged a function in the lead up to the canonisation of Mary MacKillop. Australia’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Mr Tim Fischer AC, spoke about his role representing Australia’s interests at the Vatican.

STOs also provided support to visiting portfolio ministers, parliamentary secretaries and consular and protocol services. The Darwin office plays a special support role for our post in East Timor.

Market information and research

Country fact sheets and trade statistics publications were published on the department’s website, providing valuable information on Australia’s trade performance and trade relationship with other countries. An article on Australia’s services trade with ASEAN attracted considerable media interest. The department also redeveloped its Trade Export Classification to a more modern and relevant classification called Trade Import and Export Classification (TRIEC). Using TRIEC, Australia’s and other countries’ exports and imports can be analysed by ‘type’—such as primary goods, simply-manufactured products and elaborately-manufactured products.

Outlook

The department will continue to give high priority to providing services to Parliament. This includes prompt and efficient management of parliamentary Questions on Notice and ministerial correspondence. Federal parliamentarians, parliamentary delegations and committees will be kept informed of the Government’s foreign and trade policy priorities and supported in their efforts to advance Australia’s interests overseas.

Support will continue for state and territory governments, other agencies and the business community in Australia and overseas. This will include consultation on trade policy issues.

Management services will continue for other government agencies in our overseas network in line with commitments under the Service Level Agreement (SLA). Negotiations will take place between September and November 2011 on a new SLA with 30 agencies.

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