Annual Report 2004-2005

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Appendix 1

Ministerial responsibilities

Minister for Foreign Affairs, The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP

The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP

Mr Downer has overall responsibility for the portfolio, including the department's administration and management, and all non-trade international political, multilateral and legal issues (including the treaty-making process), consular and passport functions, and development assistance matters. In addition, he is responsible for all human rights, arms control and disarmament issues, peacekeeping, and the non-trade related aspects of the UN system. Mr Downer shares responsibility for international security issues with the Minister for Defence and is also responsible for taking the lead on international efforts to combat terrorism. International environment issues, while primarily the responsibility of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, in many cases also fall within the responsibility of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage. Mr Downer has primary carriage of non-trade related public affairs activities and questions of protocol. He also has responsibility for the administration and management of AusAID, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, and the Australia–Japan Foundation.

Minister for Trade, The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP

The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP

Mr Vaile is responsible for all trade matters—bilateral, regional and multilateral—and has responsibility for Austrade (including TradeStart and the Export Market Development Grants Scheme) and the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC). Bilateral responsibilities include free trade agreements and other trade and economic agreements with important trading partners. Regional responsibilities include APEC and ASEAN Free Trade Area—Australia–New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement (AFTA–CER) arrangements. Multilateral responsibilities include the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In the WTO context, Mr Vaile chairs the 17-member Cairns Group of fair agricultural trading nations. WTO rules cover trade in goods (both agricultural and non-agricultural products), trade in services, trade-related intellectual property rights, as well as the dispute settlement system for managing trade disputes between WTO members. When travelling overseas to promote and advance Australian trade and commercial interests, Mr Vaile often leads industry missions.

Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade, The Hon. Bruce Billson, MP

The Hon. Bruce Billson, MP

Mr Billson is responsible for the day-to-day management of issues related to the aid program, and provides assistance to Mr Downer in carrying out his responsibility for aid policy. He also assists Mr Vaile with outreach and advocacy on trade and development issues. Mr Billson works actively with members of the public, non-government organisations, the business community, academia and other key stakeholders to build an understanding of Australia's official aid program. He promotes recognition of the efforts of Australian volunteers in developing countries. Mr Billson is the Government's Special Representative on Mine Action, chair of the Consultative Council of the Centre for Democratic Institutions and Deputy Chair of the Aid Advisory Council. Mr Billson actively promotes the portfolio's consular and passports functions by raising community awareness about travel advisory services and building partnerships with the travel industry, including through the Charter for Safe Travel and the Smartraveller Consultative Group.

Further information about the Ministers and the Parliamentary Secretary is available from the department's website at

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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Annual Report 2004–2005
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