Skip to main content


Order constituting the Australia-China Council

I, PHILIP MICHAEL JEFFERY, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, hereby order as follows:

1. The Order dated 17 May 1978 constituting the Australia-China Council, as amended by the Orders dated 17 May 1979, 28 April 1981, 19 February 2004 and 1 June 2006, is hereby revoked and replaced by this Order.


2. There is established a council to be known as the "Australia-China Council" (hereafter referred to as "the Council").


3. The mission of the Council is to develop and strengthen mutual interests in a rapidly expanding Australia – China relationship.


4. (1) The function of the Council is to make recommendations to the Australian Government through the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (hereafter referred to as "the Minister") on strengthening the Australia-China relationship in support of Australian foreign and trade policy priorities.

(2) In performing 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 China.

(3) The Council is an advisory body and is directly responsible and accountable to the Minister for the exercise of its function and responsibilities. These Orders do not provide the Council with any form of executive power or separate legal status from the Commonwealth.


5. The Council and its members will undertake the following:
(a) develop a Strategic Plan for approval by the Minister;
(b) develop an annual Business Plan within the context of the Strategic Plan for approval by the Minister;
(c) implement the Strategic and Business Plans;
(d) develop and implement programs and services which achieve the objectives of the Council as specified in the Strategic and Business Plans;
(e) ensure the quality of programs and services;
(f) develop and implement a Risk Management Plan;
(g) monitor Council expenditure and make recommendations to the relevant financial delegate for expenditure within the context of the approved Business Plan;
(h) conduct an annual review of the performance of the Board; and
(i) ensure the Council is functioning well by reviewing the work of the Council at least once every three years.

Structure and Membership

6. (1) The Council shall consist of:
(a) a Board comprising:
(i) a Chairperson;
(ii) as an ex officio member, the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), or his/her authorised representative; and
(iii) not less than four and not more than seven other members; and
(b) a Secretariat provided by DFAT.

(2) The Chairperson shall be appointed by the Governor-General on the nomination of the Minister.

(3) The Chairperson shall be appointed:
(a) for a period not exceeding five years; and
(b) on a part-time basis.

(4) Members of the Board, other than the Chairperson and the ex officio member, shall be appointed by the Minister:
(a) for a period not exceeding three years; and
(b) on a part-time basis.

(5) The Chairperson and members, other than the ex officio member, are eligible to be re-appointed.

(6) The Governor-General may terminate the appointment of the Chairperson on the recommendation of the Minister. The Chairperson may resign his or her membership by notification in writing to the Governor-General.

(7) The Minister may terminate the appointment of a member of the Board. A member may resign his or her membership by notification in writing to the Minister. This sub-clause does not apply to the Chairperson or to the ex officio member.


7. (1) The responsibilities of Council members are to:
(a) have a commitment to the Council's mission and goals and act in the best interests of the Council;
(b) make reasonable inquiries to ensure the Council is operating efficiently, effectively, appropriately and legally in achieving its mission and goals;
(c) contribute the time needed to study and understand material for meetings and other Council work in advance;
(d) meet all of their fiduciary duties and responsibilities; and
(e) apply good analytical skills, objectivity and judgment when:

  • attending Council meetings;
  • participating in discussions;
  • participating in decisions; and
  • participating in sub-committees as appropriate.

(2) In addition to sub-clause (1), the Chairperson is responsible for:
(a) chairing meetings (unless agreed otherwise)
(b) facilitating Council meetings to ensure there is effective participation and decision making at Council meetings including:

  • working through the agenda;
  • ensuring the effective participation of all members present at meetings;
  • encouraging constructive questioning and strategic thinking; and
  • clarifying decisions (and wording where appropriate) for the Secretariat and the Council as a whole;

(c) managing potential conflicts of interest in accordance with departmental policies;
(d) ensuring adequate follow-up and reporting; and
(e) promoting good relations with the Minister, Secretary and other staff of DFAT, and key stakeholders.

(3) In addition to sub-clause (1), the ex officio member is responsible for:
(a) providing recommendations on Council member appointments and extensions to the Minister;
(b) providing strategic-level policy advice to the Council on the Government's foreign and trade priorities;
(c) providing strategic-level advice on the administration and management of grant programs; and
(d) ensuring all spending proposals recommended for approval are consistent with discretionary grant program guidelines and the DFAT's financial management and accountability requirements.

(4) The responsibilities of the Secretariat are to:
(a) provide administrative support to the Council;
(b) implement the recommendations of the Council; and
(c) undertake other activities that progress the goals of the Council.

Conduct and Ethics

8. (1) The Chairperson 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, DFAT's Code of Conduct for Overseas Service with the exception that they shall not be subject to DFAT's disciplinary procedures. In particular, the Chairperson and members of the Council are required to:
(a) disclose potential conflicts of interest and address any issues in accordance with departmental policies;
(b) not use their position and information for personal benefit or advantage at the expense of the Council;
(c) deal with other members and the Secretariat with courtesy and respect; and
(d) 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.

(2) Nothing in sub-clause 8(1) shall be taken as conferring any diplomatic or consular immunity, privileges or status on the Chairperson or members of the Council.


9. A person appointed to be a member of the Council (other than the ex officio member) shall be:
(a) paid sitting fees, travel and accommodation expenses in accordance with Australian Government Remuneration Tribunal Determinations; and
(b) entitled to be reimbursed for other expenses actually incurred by the member in the performance of their duties as a member of the Council and as recommended by the Council and approved by the relevant financial delegate.
This clause has effect subject to the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973.

Meeting Procedures

10. (1) Meetings of the Council shall be held at such times and at such places as the Council determines. At least one and no more than four meetings will be held each financial year.

(2) The Chairperson 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 written request.

(3) At a meeting of the Council, a quorum shall be constituted by any three members or not less than half the members for the time being holding office, whichever is the larger.

(4) The procedures for the conduct of meetings of the Council, including procedures for the appointment by the members from amongst their number of an acting Chairperson and a deputy Chairperson (where appointed by the Council), shall be determined from time to time by the Council.

  • The agenda for each meeting and any briefing papers will be distributed to members no less than one week prior to each meeting.

(6) The minutes for each meeting will be circulated no more than two weeks after each meeting.


11. (1) The Council will participate in the mid-term and annual review of its activities coordinated by DFAT, the results of which are forwarded to the Minister for consideration.

(2) The Council will produce an Annual Report for the Minister's consideration as soon as practicable after 30 June each year and no later than 31 October each year. The Annual Report is to be published on DFAT's website once it is approved by the Minister.
Funding Arrangements

12. (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:
(a) moneys standing to the credit of any Special Account established under section 20 of the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 for those purposes; or
(b) any other moneys lawfully available for those purposes.

(2) The expenditure of any public money provided to the Council is to be approved, in accordance with the applicable financial legislation, by DFAT.

(3) DFAT will have responsibility for fulfilling all financial reporting requirements in respect of the Council and its activities.

Transition Arrangements

13. A person who held office as a member of the Council immediately before the making of this Order continues to hold office as if this Order had been in force when the person was appointed to be such a member. This clause does not prevent the person's appointment from being terminated pursuant to these Orders.

Signed and Sealed with
the Great Seal of
Australia on



By His Excellency's Command

Stephen Smith

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs

Last Updated: 31 July 2019
Back to top