Supporting ministerial travel
Facilitating travel for ministers to different corners of the globe and organising productive meetings with counterparts is a key focus for the department and our global network.
We undertake this work because ministers cultivate and deepen Australia’s engagement with bilateral and regional partners and with multilateral institutions. They are a force multiplier for Australia’s contribution to global stability and economic growth.
For much of 2015–16, the department supported four ministers. We arranged 44 visits by our portfolio ministers to 36 countries for a combined duration of 271 days. We booked cost-effective flights and accommodation, arranged airport facilitation and ground transport, identified strategic objectives, prepared briefs and speeches, and managed meetings and events. Often our portfolio ministers travelled abroad simultaneously.
The department worked with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to support eight prime ministerial visits overseas to a total of 15 countries. In addition, we assisted 45 federal parliamentarians to travel to 32 countries. This included parliamentary delegations to 11 countries. We also assisted five former prime ministers with 45 visits to 26 countries. The department received excellent feedback on our efforts.
Each ministerial visit confirmed the value to effective diplomacy of physical proximity and personal connection. While the digital age has delivered increased interconnectedness, our experience shows that there is no substitute for a face-to-face ministerial meeting when finalising a trade negotiation or securing support for a multilateral agreement.
We will continue to refine our processes for supporting ministers overseas and enabling them to represent Australia effectively on the global stage. This year we digitised our pre-departure booklets, delivering a more up-to-date product and saving $11,500.