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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

Program management (services to other agencies)

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

Overview

The department maintained a high level of service to the Parliament, ministers and Cabinet.

We provided financial, human resources and property management services to 28 government departments and agencies with overseas representation, including to the New Zealand Government. We provided information and communications technology (ICT) services to 50 agencies in Australia and overseas.

The department worked with business and state and territory governments to advance the Government's trade policy, promotion and development goals, through engaging key stakeholders and contributing to whole-of-government outcomes.

Photo of The then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Rudd, with South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, before the pre-CHOGM Foreign Ministers' Working Lunch in October 2011. Photo: Patrick Hamilton

The then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Rudd, with South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, before the pre-CHOGM Foreign Ministers' Working Lunch in October 2011. Photo: Patrick Hamilton

The Australian Parliament

The department continued to give high priority to providing services to Parliament, ministers and Cabinet. We facilitated engagement between federal parliamentarians and ministers and their counterparts across the globe. We also continued to fulfil our public accountability responsibilities by presenting information to parliamentary committees.

Parliamentary travel

We assisted with 52 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. We recommended and scheduled appointments with relevant officials, and provided written and oral background briefings on foreign and trade policy. We facilitated overseas visits for parliamentary delegations to Germany, Austria, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, United Kingdom, Japan, Cambodia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Switzerland, France, United States, Brunei, Trinidad and Tobago, Senegal, Netherlands, Poland, Uganda, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Papua New Guinea, Spain, Turkey, China, Belgium, Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Seychelles, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Namibia, Nigeria, Mongolia, Argentina, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Cyprus, Lebanon, Brazil and Italy.

Incoming delegations

We assisted the Parliament with seven visits to Australia by parliamentary delegations from other countries. We also provided the Presiding Officers with briefing for use in their meetings with visiting parliamentarians and officials.

Parliamentary committees

The department briefed and appeared before a range of parliamentary committees, as outlined in Appendix 5.

Questions on notice

We assisted portfolio ministers on responses to 108 written parliamentary Questions on Notice. Of these, 44 were from the House of Representatives and 64 from the Senate. In addition, we answered 759 questions submitted in writing or taken on notice during Senate Estimates hearings.

Ministerial submissions and briefings

During 2011–12, the department produced 1298 ministerial submissions, 280 meeting briefs, 204 cabinet briefs and 36 cabinet submissions.

Ministerial correspondence

We received and processed 9654 ministerial letters in 2011–12, compared with 9596 in 2010–11. Portfolio ministers use such correspondence to communicate government policy on foreign and trade-related matters to the Australian community and foreigners.

Services to attached agencies

The Service Level Agreement (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 three years commencing 1 July 2012.

Under the SLA, the department provided management services, on a cost-recovery basis, to 28 government departments, agencies and federally-funded bodies with overseas representation, as well as 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.

We also provided information and communications technology services to 42 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 14 agencies overseas (also see Appendix 8).

Services to state governments and other agencies overseas and in Australia

The department provided briefing, advice and other support for Australian Government agencies on international aspects of their agendas.

As part of whole-of-government activities, the department arranged visit programs, took part in negotiations led by other agencies, and facilitated representation by Australian officials at meetings in Australia and overseas.

Through our overseas posts and state and territory offices (STOs), we played a substantial role in supporting visits overseas by state and territory ministers, parliamentarians and officials, as well as Federal ministers and parliamentarians.

The department's STOs remained instrumental in maintaining close communication with state and territory governments on foreign and trade policy issues.

Services to business

Trade policy coordination, business liaison and state and territory offices

With Austrade, the department assisted business to understand and compete in the international business environment and to increase market access.

The department worked closely with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to implement the new regulatory arrangements for the export of Australian live animals. The regulations are designed to ensure that appropriate animal welfare standards are met and that the trade is sustainable.

Our STOs held seminars and consultations with state governments, industry, non-government organisations and tertiary institutions on trade negotiations and other business issues, for example:

  • the Perth office assisted with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in October 2011 and facilitated the hosting of mining ministers from 13 African countries at Africa Down Under, Australia's pre-eminent forum for promoting Australian resources sector trade and investment with Africa, in
    August/September 2011
  • the Sydney office partnered with the Royal Agricultural Show in April 2012 to showcase NSW's agricultural sector to the NSW Consular Corps and potential international markets
  • the Melbourne office helped organise the 11th negotiating round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement in Melbourne in March 2012, attended by over 500 negotiators and stakeholders, and organised formal consultations on the Malaysia–Australia FTA and economic relations with India.

Market information and research

The department published country fact sheets and trade statistics publications on the website, which provided valuable information on Australia's trade performance and trade relationship with other countries. A range of analytical articles were published, including Australia's outward finance and insurance foreign affiliates trade in services, the economic and trade impact of the March 2011 Japanese earthquake, Australia's trade in services with the United States, and Australia's trade performance. A new trade data time series dissemination tool was made available on the website, using Excel pivot table spreadsheets.

Personal Profile:

Matthew Harrison

Photo of Matthew Harrison

Matthew joined the department as a policy graduate in 2005. He was Second Secretary (Political) at the Australian Embassy in Manila (2007–10) and has worked in Canberra at various times on Australia's bilateral relations with Afghanistan, Canada and the Philippines. He has also worked in APEC Branch and Corporate Management Division.

As the Deputy Director in the Queensland State Office, Matthew is currently responsible for raising awareness and understanding about foreign affairs, trade and consular issues at the state level, and providing advice to assist the Queensland Government with its international activities. He also supports the foreign Consular Corps in Queensland with protocol services and manages a small team that legalises Australian documents for presentation overseas.

"In many ways, the work of the Queensland State Office is similar to that of our overseas posts. I spend a great deal of time engaging government and business representatives seeking DFAT's advice about specific foreign and trade policy issues, whether it be technical information about a Free Trade Agreement or queries concerning Australian and UN sanctions. I enjoy speaking with students about the diversity of my work and the sort of career only DFAT can offer."

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 revised Service Level Agreement commencing 1 July 2012.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade