Council on Australia Latin America Relations (COALAR)

Charter for the Council on Australia Latin America Relations (COALAR)

Mission

The mission of the Council on Australia Latin America Relations is to enhance Australia's economic, political and social relations with Latin America.

Objectives

The Council's objectives are the achievement of:

  1. enhanced and strengthened links between Australia and Latin America in the priority areas of business, education, sustainability, tourism and cultural promotion;
  2. a closer engagement between corporate Australia with Latin America;
  3. an increased awareness and understanding of Australia in Latin America, and of Latin America in Australia.

Function

  1. The functions of the Council includes to:
    1. provide advice to the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Trade (hereafter referred to as "the Ministers") through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (hereafter referred to as "the Department") to achieve the Council's objectives
    2. implement the approved strategic and business plans effectively and efficiently, within the approved budget, through programs, grants, and other activities as appropriate.
    3. implement any directives that may be issues from time to time by the Ministers, and
    4. monitor Council expenditure and make recommendations to the Department delegates for expenditure within the approved budget.
  2. In delivering its function, the Council should consult as widely as possible with individuals, organisations, enterprises and Government departments and agencies associated or concerned with the broadening of relations between Australia and Latin America.
  3. The Council is an advisory body for the Ministers and has no executive powers. The Council is directly responsible and accountable to the Minister for Foreign Affairs for the exercise of its responsibilities.

Activities

  1. The Council and its members will undertake the following:
    1. develop a three year Strategic Plan for approval by the Minister for Foreign Affairs;
    2. develop an annual Business Plan within the context of the Strategic Plan for approval by the Minister for Foreign Affairs;
    3. implement the Strategic and Business Plans;
    4. implement any directives that may be issued from time to time by the Minister for Foreign Affairs;
    5. ensure the quality of programs and services;
    6. develop and implement a Risk Management Plan;
    7. monitor the Council' s expenditure and make recommendations to the relevant financial delegate for expenditure within the context of the approved Business Plan;
    8. conduct an annual review of the performance of the Board;
    9. review the Strategic Plan at least once every three years, including re-issuing the Council's Charter.

Structure and Membership

  1. The Council shall consist of:
    1. a Board comprising:
      1. a Chair; and
      2. the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, or a departmental representative appointed by the Secretary, as an ex officio member; and
      3. the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Austrade, or an Austrade representative appointed by the CEO, as an ex officio member; and
      4. the Secretary of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, or a departmental representative appointed by the Secretary, as an ex officio member, and
      5. not less than four and not more than seven other members; and
    2. a Secretariat provided by the Department.
  2. The Chair and members of the Board, excluding the ex officio members, shall be appointed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, in consultation with the Minister for Trade:
    1. for a period not exceeding three years; and
    2. on a part-time basis.
  3. The Chairperson and members are eligible to be re-appointed although it is not envisaged that either the Chairperson or any other member (other than the ex officio member) would serve more than two consecutive terms.
  4. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, in consultation with the Minister for Trade, may at any time terminate the appointment of the Chair, or a member of the Board, by giving notice in writing. The Chair or a member of the Board may resign his or her membership at any time by giving notice in writing to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. (This clause does not apply to the ex officio members).
  5. Neither the Chairperson nor any other members will be employees of DFAT or the Commonwealth by virtue only of their appointment to the Council.
  6. The Council does not have a legal identify separate to that of DFAT. The Council cannot, therefore, enter into contracts, incur debts or spend funds. To meet government accountability requirements, the relevant DFAT financial delegate will have responsibility for approving the expenditure of funds, the engagement of consultants and entering into contracts by the Department for the performance of the activities mandated by the Council's Business Plan and for other matters related to the carrying out of the Council's purposes.

Responsibilities

  1. Board members (including the Chair and ex officio members) are responsible for:
    1. providing advice as appropriate on relevant bilateral and/or multilateral issues with Latin American countries based on their experience, expertise and detailed understanding of the issues;
    2. establishing and maintaining effective networks between the Australian Government and key stakeholders;
    3. formulating strategies for developing and promoting Australia's relationship with Latin America;
    4. evaluating applications for government funding and making recommendations on spending proposals;
    5. complying with the Department's policies and procedures for the management of the Council and any other Departmental accountability requirements;
    6. monitoring and evaluating the activities of the Council as appropriate; and
    7. meeting all their fiduciary duties and responsibilities.
  2. In addition to paragraph 12, the Chair is responsible for:
    1. approving an agenda for each meeting
    2. chairing meetings, including:
      1. ensuring the participation of all members present;
      2. encouraging constructive questioning and strategic thinking;
      3. clarifying decisions (and wording where appropriate) for the Secretariat and the Council as a whole;
    3. managing potential conflicts of interest in accordance with Departmental policies;
    4. ensuring adequate follow-up and reporting; and
    5. promoting good relations with the Ministers, Secretary and other Departmental staff, and key stakeholders.
  3. In addition to paragraph 12, the ex officio members have full voting rights on the Council, and are responsible for:
    1. providing recommendations on Council member appointments and extensions to the Ministers;
    2. providing strategic-level policy advice to the Council on the Government's foreign and trade priorities;
    3. providing strategic-level advice on the administration and management of grant programs; and
    4. ensuring all spending proposals recommended for approval are consistent with discretionary grant program guidelines and the Department's financial management and accountability requirements.
  4. The Secretariat, under the authority of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, is responsible for:
    1. providing administrative support to the Council, including record, circulate and retain copies of the minutes of each Board meeting and maintain records of all out-of-session decisions made;
    2. facilitating the implementation of the recommendations of the Council; and
    3. undertaking other activities that progress the goals of the Council.

Conduct and Ethics

  1. The Chair and members of the Council are required to abide by the principles set out in the Australian Public Service Values and Code of Conduct, and where applicable, the Department's Code of Conduct for Overseas Service with the exception that they shall not be subject to the Department's disciplinary procedures.
  2. In particular, the Chair and members of the Council are required to:
    1. disclose potential, perceived or actual conflicts of interest and address any issues in accordance with Departmental policies;
    2. not use their position and information for personal benefit or advantage at the expense of the Council;
    3. deal with other Board members and the Secretariat with courtesy and respect; and
    4. respect the privacy and confidentiality of information obtained in the course of their participation and not share information that members are instructed to keep confidential.
  3. Nothing in paragraph 12 shall be taken as conferring any diplomatic or consular immunity, privileges or status on the Chair or members of the Council.

Remuneration

  1. A person appointed to be a member of the Council, other than ex officio members, shall be:
    1. paid sitting fees, travel and accommodation expenses in accordance with relevant Australian Government Remuneration Tribunal Determinations:
      1. "Category 2" daily fee for Council business, including attendance at Board meetings;
      2. "Tier 2" travelling allowance for attending Council business; and
    2. entitled to be reimbursed for reasonable expenses incurred in the performance of their duties as a member of the Council, as approved by the relevant financial delegate.
  2. A member of the Council who holds any office or appointment (or is otherwise employed) on a full time basis in the service of the Commonwealth, the Administration of a Territory or a public statutory corporation is not entitled to be paid any remuneration in respect of his or her holding or performing the duties of the Chairperson or member of the Council. The member may be entitled to travelling allowances.

Meeting Procedures

  1. Meetings of the Council shall be held at such times and at such places as the Council determines, taking into account the most cost-effective location. At least one, and no more than four meetings, will be held each financial year.
  2. The Chair shall, upon receipt of a written request signed by four other members of the Council, summon a meeting of the Council to deal with such matters as are specified in that request.
  3. At a meeting of the Council, a quorum shall be constituted by a minimum of three non-ex officio members and at least one ex officio member.
  4. The procedures for the conduct of the meetings of the Council, including procedures for the appointment by the members from amongst their number of an Acting Chair and a Deputy Chair, shall be determined from time to time by the Council. The procedures may be reviewed from time to time by the Council as required. All amendments to existing procedures must be fully documented and the Secretariat must retain copies of the appropriate documentation.
  5. Decisions made by the Council during meetings shall be determined by a majority of the votes of members present. Where there are only four members present, no more than one ex officio member can be included. Each member present (including the Chair) is entitled to one vote. In the event of an equality of votes, the Chair or acting Chair may exercise a casting vote.
  6. The procedures for decisions made by the Council 'out-of-session' shall be determined from time to time by the Council. The procedures may be reviewed from time to time by the Council as required. All amendments to existing procedures must be fully documented and the Secretariat must retain copies of the appropriate documentation.
  7. The agenda for each meeting and any briefing papers will be distributed to members no less than one week prior to each meeting.
  8. The minutes for each meeting will be circulated no more than two weeks after each meeting.

Reporting

  1. The Council will participate in the mid-term and annual review of its activities coordinated by the Department, the results of which are forwarded to the Ministers for consideration.
  2. The Council will produce an annual program report for the Ministers' consideration as soon as practicable after 30 June each year and no later than 31 October each year. The Program Report is to be published on the Department's website once it is approved by the Ministers.
  3. The Council will ensure all discretionary grants awarded to third parties are reported on the DFAT website no later than seven working days after a funding agreement is signed by both parties unless an exemption is provided.
  4. The Department will have responsibility for fulfilling all financial reporting requirements in respect of the Council and its activities.

Funding Arrangements

  1. Moneys required for the purpose of enabling the Council to discharge its functions and the implementation of the Council's recommendations shall be obtained from:
    1. a departmental allocation from DFAT; and
    2. an administered allocation under the International Relations Grant Program (IRGP). The amount of IRGP funding will be determined annually by the Minister on the recommendation of the Department.
  2. The Council's budget will be administered by the First Assistant Secretary of the Americas Division of the Department or other authorised financial Delegate in accordance with relevant financial legislation.
  3. The Department will fulfil all financial reporting requirements in respect of the Council and its activities.
  4. Subject to Departmental guidelines and consistent with its mission, the Council is encouraged to seek additional revenue by way of sponsorship and other means including the sale of publications. Such additional revenue will be allocated to the same cost centre as Departmental funding.