The Department

Ministerial and Portfolio Responsibilities Ministerial Responsibilities

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Downer

Mr Downer has overall responsibility for the portfolio, including the Department’s administration and management, and all non- trade international political, multilateral, legal and consular issues and development assistance matters. In addition, Mr Downer is responsible for all human rights, arms control and disarmament issues, peacekeeping and non- trade related aspects of the UN system. International environment issues, while primarily the responsibility of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, often require close consultation and occasionally joint decision by both ministers. Mr Downer has primary carriage of non- trade related public affairs activities and questions of protocol.

Minister for Trade, Mr Fischer

Mr Fischer is responsible for all trade matters— bilateral, regional and multilateral— and has responsibility for Austrade. Regional trade interests include APEC, closer economic relations with New Zealand, the ASEAN Free Trade Area and MERCOSUR. Multilateral interests include the WTO and the OECD. Mr Fischer consults sectoral ministers, state and territory governments and industry to ensure the Government’s international trade efforts are effective and aim to improve Australia’s export performance.

Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mrs Sullivan

Mrs Sullivan works closely with Mr Downer on consular matters and a range of development assistance matters. Mr Downer is responsible for overall aid policy issues. However, Mrs Sullivan assists Mr Downer on a range of issues covering other elements of the portfolio when he is unable to fulfil these functions on behalf of the Government. These include speaking engagements and meetings with parliamentary or other high- level visitors and ambassadors.

Parliamentary Secretary for Trade, Senator Brownhill

Senator Brownhill works closely with Mr Fischer on trade activity in eastern and central Europe, South America, the South Pacific and Papua New Guinea. In addition, Senator Brownhill assists Mr Fischer on horticultural, processed food and textiles market access issues and liaison with federal and state chambers of commerce and industry and bilateral chambers of commerce. Multilateral trade interests include consultation with industry, states and territories on possible Australian membership of the WTO Government Procurement Agreement and the WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement.

Matters Dealt with by the Department

The Department is responsible for external affairs, including:

  • relations and communications with overseas governments
  • treaties, including trade agreements
  • bilateral and multilateral trade policy
  • international trade and commodity negotiations
  • trade promotion
  • international development cooperation
  • diplomatic and consular missions
  • disarmament and nuclear non- proliferation
  • public diplomacy, including information and cultural programs.

Provision to Australian citizens of secure travel identification.

Provision of consular services to Australian citizens abroad.

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Local Date: Wednesday, 28-Jan-2015 03:56:50 EST