Annual Report 2006-2007

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Key Achievements

1. Enhancing security and counter-terrorism cooperation

The department facilitated inaugural joint foreign and defence ministerial talks with the United Kingdom in December 2006 and joint foreign and defence ministerial consultations with Japan in June 2007. These new consultations complement existing joint consultations with the United States (AUSMIN). The department played a key role in enhancing Australia’s relationship with NATO—particularly through Australia’s deployment to Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The department also led efforts to strengthen strategic ties with key partners over the past year by advancing practical cooperation under the auspices of the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD) between the United States, Australia and Japan.

The department strengthened its role as the primary coordinator of the Government’s international security and counter-terrorism strategies. The department led Australia’s participation in the inaugural Trilateral Counter-Terrorism Consultation with Japan and the United States in October 2006. Australia and Indonesia signed the Agreement on the Framework for Security Cooperation which provides a strong legal framework for encouraging cooperative activities in areas including defence, law enforcement, counter-terrorism, maritime security and emergency management in December 2006. Australia and Japan signed a historic Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation in March 2007 which will broaden the security relationship. We also joined the Global Initiative on Combating Nuclear Terrorism in July 2006 and, in support of the Initiative, hosted the Asia-Pacific Seminar on Combating Nuclear Terrorism in Sydney in May 2007. The Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office played the lead role in negotiating a bilateral Australia–China Nuclear Transfer Agreement and a Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, which came into effect in February 2007, and allows for the supply of Australian uranium to China’s nuclear power program and cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear technology.

2. Contributing to economic growth

2006 was a successful year for Australian trade, with exports of goods and services rising by 16 per cent to approximately $210 billion. The department continued to promote market access for Australian goods and services and the maintenance of the global rules-based trading system. Australia was one of the most active countries seeking to achieve substantive success in the WTO Doha Round, including through our leadership of the Cairns Group. We commenced free trade agreement negotiations that will open markets for Australian business and investment and reduce trade barriers with Japan and continued negotiations with China, Malaysia, and ASEAN countries with New Zealand.

3. Enhancing crisis preparedness and response

The department coordinated Australia’s largest ever consular evacuation in 2006, assisting the departure of over 5160 citizens, permanent residents and their immediate dependants from Lebanon. During this period, the department operated a 24-hour crisis response for 36 continuous days. In March 2007, the department opened a new Crisis Centre which has enhanced our capability to facilitate whole of government responses to international consular crises. The Centre was first used during the swift and effective response to the Yogyakarta air accident. Australia’s consular preparedness was also enhanced by the launch of a new smartraveller public awareness campaign in April 2007.

4. Implementing practical responses to climate change

The department continued to lead practical efforts to address climate change both globally through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and regionally, primarily through the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (AP6). The six partners–Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and the United States—represent over half the world’s economy and population. In November 2006, the Prime Minister launched Action Plans developed by the AP6’s eight Task Forces, which by June 2007 had announced 90 projects, including 63 which have received in-principle Australian Government funding of nearly AUD100 million. In May 2007, the Minister for Foreign Affairs launched the Government’s international strategy to counter climate change which the department leads in consultation with the Department of the Environment and Water Resources. The strategy’s five pillars embrace working for more effective global action on climate change through the UNFCCC and other groupings, through APEC, through the AP6, through the Global Initiative on Forests and Climate, and through cooperation with key bilateral partners. Separately, the department also provided policy support for the establishment of the Australia–China Joint Coordination Group on Clean Coal Technology and participated in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report.

5. Strengthening governance in the South Pacific

The department coordinated whole of government efforts to maintain and enhance security and good governance in the South Pacific. The department coordinated the Government’s response to the coup in Fiji and worked with the international community to press Fiji to return to democratic governance as soon as possible. We managed successfully Australia’s whole of government contribution to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) and actively supported a review of RAMSI by the Pacific Islands Forum. In Papua New Guinea, the department coordinated the Enhanced Cooperation Program (ECP). Elsewhere in the region, the department played a major role in responding to the riots in Tonga and contributed importantly to advancing good governance, sustainable development and poverty alleviation.

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