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Annual Report 1999-2000Annual Report 1999-2000 home page

ContentsContents > Overviews > Outcome 1: National Interests > Outcome 2: Consular & Passports > Outcome 3: Public Diplomacy > Management > Financial Statements > Appendixes > Glossaries

YOU ARE CURRENTLY AT: Outcome 1 > Outputs 1.1 and 1.2 > Quality and Quantity information


OUTCOME 1: Australia's national interests protected and advanced through contributions to international security, national economic and trade performance and global cooperation

Output 1.1:
Protection and advancement of Australia’s international interests through the diplomatic network and Canberra-based activity


Output 1.2:
Provision of policy advice and analysis to portfolio ministers

   OUTPUTS 1.1 & 1.2 QUALITY AND QUANTITY INFORMATION   

Quality indicators

  • Satisfaction of ministers and key stakeholders with the advocacy of Australian interests, including the conduct and timeliness of bilateral and multilateral negotiations, representations and liaison; and with posts’ reporting and official programs organised.
  • Satisfaction of other Commonwealth agencies with policy advice and representations, negotiations, research performed, briefings, visit facilitation and services provided.
  • Satisfaction with the department’s policy advice, analysis, speeches and briefings including the department’s coordination role with other agencies on policy issues which have an international dimension.

Quantity indicators

  • Scope and composition of the DFAT-managed diplomatic network.
  • Number of international meetings or negotiations attended, including on behalf of other Commonwealth agencies.
  • Number of official programs prepared for DFAT ministers.
  • Number of official programs prepared for the Prime Minister and other Commonwealth ministers.
  • Number of reporting cables produced by our overseas missions.
  • Number of occasions on which the department has contributed to the development of policies by other Commonwealth agencies.
  • Number of specified units of policy advice delivered, for example ministerial and cabinet submissions, ministerial correspondence, speeches, briefings.
  • Number of consultations conducted with non-government organisations.
  • Number of Foreign Affairs Council and Trade Policy Advisory Council meetings organised.

Satisfaction of ministers and key stakeholders

The department received performance feedback in a number of ways from portfolio ministers and key stakeholders, including the Prime Minister and non-portfolio ministers. This was used in our internal evaluation processes and guided our approach to priority setting and resource allocation.

Advocacy of Australian interests

The department’s advocacy takes many forms:

Ministers expressed their general satisfaction with the department’s advocacy of Australian interests and provided positive feedback on the performance of our diplomatic and consular posts overseas.

Mr Downer commended our work on East Timor, both in Canberra and through our overseas posts. He particularly acknowledged our work in advocating a resolution to the violence in East Timor: making representations to the Indonesian authorities, liaising closely with the United Nations and other interested nations, and encouraging broad regional international participation in the INTERFET force.

Mr Vaile expressed satisfaction with the support we provided for the Seattle ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the successful APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade meeting in Darwin in June 2000. The Darwin meeting secured strong commitment from participants to practical steps to re-establish momentum towards a new round of WTO negotiations—a key trade objective of the Government. Mr Vaile was also pleased with our advocacy of Australian interests in the WTO disputes on automotive leather and salmon, and our work in negotiating a mutually satisfactory outcome in both cases.

Posts’ reporting

Ministers were kept well informed by reporting from our overseas posts; this reporting was chiefly in the form of cabled messages. Ministers commented favourably on this reporting, particularly during crisis periods, when overseas missions under considerable pressure continued to produce high-quality analysis and input to policy advice. In the interests of streamlining reporting cables for all readers, including ministers, we trialed and then adopted a limit on the length of cables (see Working Smarter), ensuring that posts conveyed essential information succinctly.

Organisation of official programs

Ministers and other key stakeholders were satisfied with the level of support provided by the department in Canberra and overseas posts in the organisation of official programs overseas (see page 106, number of programs prepared). We received positive feedback from other agencies, including the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) and through the post evaluation review process, on our organisation of high-level visits overseas. PM&C acknowledged the highly effective work of staff overseas in arranging overseas visits by the Prime Minister and also in facilitating high-level visits from other countries to Australia under the Guest of Government program.

In response to ministers’ requirements, the department sought to improve and coordinate support services in Canberra to facilitate the smooth organisation of overseas travel and visit programs. We streamlined the amount of briefing provided to ministers for overseas visits. Ministers emphasised the importance of making the best use of accompanying business delegations to achieve trade and investment objectives, and we improved our approach to facilitating these delegations.

Satisfaction of other Commonwealth agencies

Globalisation has meant that the department’s whole-of-government and policy coordination roles are becoming more important— in particular, multilateral forums such as the WTO and the United Nations require combined formulation of policy between many agencies.

The principal agencies that the department worked with during the year included Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Australia (AFFA); Attorney-General’s Department; AusAID; Austrade; Australian Customs Service; Australian Federal Police; Department of Defence; Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs (DETYA); Department of Environment and Heritage; Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA); Department of Industry, Science and Resources (DISR); and Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C).

However, we liaised with nearly all Commonwealth agencies on specific issues at various times. Ministers expressed satisfaction with the quality and effectiveness of this liaison.

We provided policy advice and advocated Australia’s interests on a wide variety of issues for other agencies, such as health issues, biosecurity, food, drugs, fraud, money-laundering, extradition, aid, immigration, defence and security.

Overall, our clients expressed satisfaction with the level of support provided during the year, with many commenting that our overseas posts had performed at a high level in servicing specific requirements, as well as in providing broader reporting and analysis.

As part of the department’s whole-of-government advocacy role, we provided extensive briefing and support services to officials of other Commonwealth agencies and non-portfolio ministers when they travelled overseas. Our clients and other agencies have consistently expressed their satisfaction with the work undertaken on their behalf.

As well as representing other agencies overseas, the department provided a number of administrative services to other agencies located overseas through the Common Administrative Services Agreement. These services and their provision to agencies are addressed separately under output 1.4.

Provision of policy advice and analysis to ministers

We received feedback from ministers on our advice and analysis through comments on written material and regular discussions. Ministers were broadly satisfied with the department’s policy advice, analysis and briefings. We received feedback from ministers on our advice and analysis through comments on written material and regular discussions. We sought to improve our performance and responsiveness to ministers’ requirements.

The department provided secretariat support to the Foreign Affairs Council, which met three times during the year to provide policy advice to Mr Downer. We also supported Mr Vaile’s initiative to reinvigorate the Trade Policy Advisory Council, which met twice during the year.

Ministerial submissions

During the reporting period, the department produced over 1 500 written submissions for ministers’ consideration. In response to ministers’ feedback, we included assessments of domestic implications of policy recommendations, to reflect the close link between foreign affairs and trade policy and the interests of the broader Australian community.

Possible Parliamentary Questions

Possible Parliamentary Questions (PPQs) are prepared for ministers during parliamentary sitting periods and are an important centralised record of policy positions on key foreign and trade policy issues of public interest. Ministers have consistently sought shorter and more focused PPQs from the department. They expressed increased satisfaction with PPQs at the end of the reporting period due to greater efforts on the department’s part, including through increased training (70 officers, compared to 16 in 1998–99). We improved the timeliness of PPQ production through enhancements to the electronic PPQ database.

Speeches

Ministers expressed satisfaction with speeches provided by the departmental speechwriter in consultation with ministers’ offices and relevant areas of the department. We prepared 190 ministerial speeches—an increase of almost 10 per cent on the previous year.

The globalisation debate: the department responds

Against the background of a disappointing outcome to the WTO ministerial meeting in Seattle in December 1999, ministers challenged the department to be more innovative and responsive in advocating Australian interests in the debate on international trade and market access.

In response, we focused on:

  • building consensus internationally for the launch of a new round, which is overwhelmingly in Australia’s interests;
  • encouraging further market opening and trade facilitation with our trading partners;
  • urging against domestic protectionist pressure in some of our major export markets; and
  • being more responsive to the Australian community’s concerns about the impact of globalisation and to promote the benefits of free trade to Australians.

We used the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade meeting in Darwin to build momentum towards a new round and devoted appropriate resources towards that meeting—a fact recognised and appreciated by Mr Vaile. While more work remains to be done to achieve agreement to a new round, the department remains actively engaged. The department produced a report, APEC—a Decade of Progress, which set out the economic and social gains achieved in the Asia-Pacific region through open economic policies.

We took a number of steps to inform Australians about—and consult them on—the globalisation debate, and to address their concerns about the impact of trade liberalisation on domestic markets.

  • We began a series of public information activities to better inform Australian exporters about how they and the Government can work together to use Australia’s membership of the WTO to the benefit of Australian business, including establishing the WTO Disputes Investigations and Enforcement Mechanism for business. We developed a range of brochures for regions of Australia highlighting exporters’ contribution to rural and regional Australia. Australian heads of mission returning to Australia were encouraged by ministers to travel and consult the business and wider community in Australia. All this complemented our existing consultative processes, including our network of State and Territory offices.
  • We updated our website to include information relevant to regional Australia (www.dfat.gov.au/regionalexporters/index). We also launched BizAPEC (www.bizapec.com) and Tradewatch (www.dfat.gov.au/tw/), other Internet tools that inform and assist the Australian community.

Ministers have expressed appreciation for these efforts, but continue to encourage us to do more to analyse and provide advice on the international environment and respond accordingly. We will continue to respond to this challenge.

Quantity information

Scope and composition of the DFAT-managed diplomatic network.

See Appendix 18

Number of international meetings or negotiations attended, including on behalf of other Commonwealth agencies.1

22 612

Number of official programs prepared for DFAT ministers.2

87

Number of official programs prepared for the Prime Minister and other Commonwealth ministers.3

268

Number of reporting cables produced by our overseas missions.4

115 047

Number of occasions on which the department has contributed to the development of policies by other Commonwealth agencies.5

81

Number of specified units of policy advice delivered:

 

    ministerial submissions

1 517

    cabinet submissions

22

    ministerial correspondence 6

7 211

    speeches

190

    briefings not under submission

2 188

    cabinet briefings for ministers

1 659

    meeting briefs

351

Number of consultations conducted with non-government organisations.7

4 669

Number of Foreign Affairs Council meetings organised.

3

Number of Trade Policy Advisory Council meetings organised.

2

1 This information was collected by all areas of the department, including overseas posts, and collated centrally. The difficulty in defining what constitutes an international meeting or negotiation, given our different operating environments overseas, means that this figure is necessarily an approximate one.

2 This figure is based on work undertaken by each post, that is, it reflects the number of programs prepared on a country-by-country basis.

3 This figure is based on work undertaken by each post, that is, it reflects the number of programs prepared on a country-by-country basis.

4 This figure has been calculated using the total number of cables sent from overseas posts. The total has been averaged from a ten-monthly figure, as accurate figures were unable to be obtained for February and March 2000 due to a technical problem.

5 This figure represents the number of requests for coordination comments from other departments on Cabinet Submissions.

6 We also processed 25 945 pieces of campaign mail.

7 This information was collected by all areas of the department, including overseas posts, and collated centrally. Differences in defining exactly what constitutes a consultation means that this figure is necessarily an approximate one.


YOU ARE CURRENTLY AT: Outcome 1 > Outputs 1.1 and 1.2 > Quality and Quantity information

Annual Report 1999-2000Annual Report 1999-2000 home page

ContentsContents > Overviews > Outcome 1: National Interests > Outcome 2: Consular & Passports > Outcome 3: Public Diplomacy > Management > Financial Statements > Appendixes > Glossaries

 

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