Annual Report 2007-2008

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Your location: Performance > Outcome 1 > Output 1.1 > Quality and quantity information

OUTPUT 1.1: Protection and advocacy of Australia's international interests through the provision of policy advice to ministers and overseas diplomatic activity

Output 1.1 Quality and quantity information

Quality indicators

Quantity indicators

Provision of policy advice, analysis, speeches and briefings

The department received regular informal feedback on its performance through close interaction with Portfolio Ministers and the Parliamentary Secretaries throughout the year. Feedback was also received on: specific policy proposals submitted to Portfolio Ministers for consideration—mainly in the form of written submissions and briefings; during Portfolio Ministers’ international visits; and directly from Portfolio Ministers’ offices. The department interacted regularly with the Prime Minister and non-portfolio ministers on foreign and trade policy issues. In addition, Portfolio Ministers also met heads of mission at the start of, mid-way through, and sometimes at the end of their postings.

Through these channels, Portfolio Ministers expressed their general satisfaction with the department’s policy work, including our advice, analysis, speeches and briefings.

At department/agency level, we received feedback on our approach to international issues through inter-departmental meetings in Australia and overseas. In our business planning processes, such as the Post Evaluation Report process (see Section 3: Corporate management and accountability, for more information), other Australian Government agencies also provided positive feedback on the department’s role in whole-of-government policy development.

Ministerial submissions and briefings

The department produced 2495 written submissions and 4253 briefings during the reporting period. Portfolio Ministers expressed satisfaction with this policy advice and analysis.

Ministerial correspondence

The department received and processed 8625 items of ministerial correspondence in 2007–08. All responses were provided in the specified timeframe, which is one week for draft replies for ministerial signature and two weeks for departmental replies.

Questions on notice

The department prepared written responses for ministers’ consideration to Questions on Notice (QON) asked by parliamentary members and to questions taken on notice during appearances by the department before parliamentary committees. The department prepared responses to 51 QON during the reporting period.

Protection and advancement of Australia’s international interests

In their regular meetings with the department’s Senior Executive and in written comments on departmental submissions, Portfolio Ministers and the Parliamentary Secretaries expressed satisfaction with the department’s efforts to promote the interests of Australia and Australians internationally. Our performance reporting against Outcome 1 and the Secretary’s Review highlight the department’s significant contribution to the Government’s active and broad international agenda.

Capacity to respond to international developments

The department’s performance reporting against Outcome 1 is testimony to our capacity to respond quickly and effectively to a fluid and complex international operating environment.

The department maintained flexible staffing arrangements that allowed quick responses to priority or emerging issues. For example, we assigned staff to work on important events such APEC 2007 and to assist with the establishment of new ministerial offices following the change of Government. We also established crisis centres and emergency call centres, as needed, to respond to overseas consular emergencies. We expanded the number of staff trained in crisis management and/or who have worked in our crisis centre. These staff were quickly redeployed to line areas of the department once the surge in activity subsided. We undertook a number of organisational changes across the department to improve our delivery of key policy, advocacy and service delivery outcomes (see Section 3: Corporate management and accountability, for more information).

Quantity information for output 1.1
Scope and composition of the DFAT-managed diplomatic network
See Appendix 13
(Summary of the overseas network)
Number of units of policy advice delivered:

ministerial submissions

2 495
2 472

Cabinet submissions


ministerial correspondence

8 625
10 405

questions on notice




briefings not under submission2

4 253
4 040

Cabinet briefings for ministers


meeting briefs

Number of consultations conducted with other Australian Government agencies, state and territory governments, business and non-government organisations in the context of the department’s development of foreign and trade policy advice3
41 070
33 260
Number of representations made to other governments and international organisations in support of Australia’s international interests4
37 740
41 225
Number of international meetings or negotiations attended, including on behalf of other Australian Government agencies5
11 198
11 251
Number of official programs prepared for portfolio ministers and senior officials6
Number of official programs prepared for the Prime Minister, other Australian Government ministers and senior officials6
Number of reporting cables produced by our overseas posts
101 657
111 448
Number of occasions on which the department has contributed to the development of policies by other Australian Government agencies
5 238
6 853
Number of Foreign Affairs Council meetings organised
Number of Trade Advisory Council meetings organised

1 Includes speaking notes for both ministers, the parliamentary secretaries and the Senior Executive.
2 This figure includes daily consular briefings for ministers and senior officials.
3 This number includes semi-formal consultations such as telephone conversations and email correspondence.
4 This information was collected by all areas of the department, including overseas posts, and collated centrally. The difficulty in defining what constitutes a representation, given our different operating environments overseas, means that this figure is necessarily an approximate one.
5 This figure includes meetings with non-government organisations and business representatives.
6 This figure includes programs prepared for senior officials (broadband 4 level and equivalent and above).

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