Annual Report 2008-2009

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1. Overviews2. Performance3. Corporate4. Appendixes5. Financials6. Glossaries and Compliance Index

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OUTPUT 1.3: Services to other agencies in Australia and overseas (including Parliament, state representatives, business and other organisations)


On this page: Overview :: Parliament in Australia :: Services to attached agencies :: Services to business :: Services to state governments and other agencies overseas and in Australia :: Outlook

To protect and advance the national interest, the department will provide support for official overseas visits, ensure whole-of-government coordination of services in relation to the overseas diplomatic network and ensure consultation on trade policy development.

Key Performance Indicators 2008–09 Target
  • Client satisfaction with visit facilitation
  • Provide efficient and appropriate support for overseas visits by ministers and parliamentarians, representatives of state or territory governments and state or territory parliamentarians
  • Client satisfaction with services provided
  • Continue effective implementation of the Prime Minister’s Directive on the Guidelines for the Management of the Australian Government Presence Overseas

  • Maintain high quality financial, personnel and property management services to other government agencies at overseas posts in line with service level agreements
  • Effective consultation on the development of trade policy
  • Provide accurate and timely statistical trade information and advice (fee for service basis) to the public

  • Maintain close relationships with state and territory governments, including through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and the newly-created COAG Ministerial Council on International Trade

  • Manage effectively consultative processes with industry representatives, state and territory governments, NGOs and community groups to seek their views on bilateral, regional and multilateral trade negotiations
  • Overview

    Photo - See caption below for description
    Australian Ambassador to the Russian Federation, Ms Margaret Twomey, and First Secretary, Ms Michelle Manson, visit Kyrgyzstan where they joined the Australian company, Santos, to discuss their exploration project in the Fergana Valley of Kyrgyzstan in March 2009.
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    The department provided high-level support in Australia and overseas to portfolio ministers and parliamentary secretaries, Parliament, presiding officers, other ministers and parliamentary secretaries, parliamentary committees, delegations and individual parliamentarians.

    The department provided financial, human resource and property management services to 26 government departments and agencies with overseas representation. We provided information and communications technology services to 31 agencies in Australia and overseas.

    The department worked with the business community and state and territory governments to implement the Government’s trade policy, trade promotion and trade development agenda.

    Parliament in Australia

    The department’s services to Parliament included support for parliamentary travel and briefing parliamentarians on portfolio issues. We fulfilled our public accountability responsibilities and contributed to public debate about portfolio issues by providing timely and accurate information to parliamentary committees and responses to questions taken on notice. To enhance our services to Parliament, in August 2008 the department issued updated guidelines for overseas travel by federal parliamentarians.

    Parliamentary travel

    The department promoted inter-parliamentary relations by assisting with 120 overseas visits by non-ministerial federal parliamentarians and parliamentary delegations. We organised official programs and provided advice on in-country travel and briefings on key foreign and trade policy issues. Our support of Parliament included facilitating the following parliamentary delegation visits:

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    Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, Mr Chris Moraitis (centre), Australian Trade Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, Mr John Brand (second left), Counsellor AusAID, Mr Dave Vosen, with an Australian National University (ANU) representative and three shortlisted candidates (all in front) discussing courses offered at ANU on 19 June 2009.
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    In addition to supporting visits by parliamentary delegations, the department assisted 47 federal parliamentarians undertaking international study tours or attending conferences, a slight decrease from 49 visits in 2007–08.

    Incoming delegations

    The department assisted with visits to Australia by 21 foreign parliamentary delegations, providing presiding officers with country briefs and talking points for their meetings with visiting parliamentarians.

    Parliamentary committees

    The department briefed and appeared before a range of parliamentary committees (see Appendix 6). We answered 270 questions submitted in writing or taken on notice during Senate Estimates hearings, up from 145 questions in 2007–08.

    Questions on notice

    The department assisted portfolio ministers prepare responses to 78 written parliamentary Questions on Notice (also known as Questions in Writing), up from 51 in 2007–08. Of these, 18 were received from the House of Representatives and 60 from the Senate.

    Ministerial submissions and briefing

    To ensure portfolio ministers and parliamentary secretaries were comprehensively briefed on the range of foreign and trade policy issues, the department produced 2589 ministerial submissions (up from 2495 in 2007–08), 592 meeting briefs (up from 446), 102 cabinet briefs (up from 72) and 15 cabinet submissions.

    Ministerial correspondence

    Through the provision of high-quality, timely and accurate responses to ministerial correspondence, the department helped portfolio ministers deliver key messages to the public regarding the Government’s foreign and trade policy. The department provided responses to 9362 items of correspondence within agreed timeframes, an increase from 8625 items in 2007–08.

    To assist the senior executive monitor and evaluate the department’s performance in this area, we produced monthly reports that detailed the timeliness of responses and the quality of drafting and identified issues of public interest.

    Services to clients

    Photo - See caption below for description
    Federal parliamentarians Ms Nola Marino and Mr Mark Coulten observing Cambodia’s National Assembly elections in Battambang Province, July 2008 accompanied by Mr Matt Duckwork, Third Secretary at Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh (right). These were the fourth national elections held since the Paris Peace Accords and UNTAC mission introduced democracy to the country in 1993, and represented an important step towards the consolidation of democracy in Cambodia. Australia contributed one of the largest election monitoring teams to these elections, consisting of four Federal parliamentarians and a further 21 embassy staff.
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    Federal parliamentarians commended the department on the briefings, programs and logistical support we provided for overseas parliamentary travel. Ministers and parliamentary secretaries expressed a high level of satisfaction with the quality of our briefing, policy advice, responses to ministerial correspondence and management of workflow systems including for question time.

    Services to attached agencies

    Under the Service Level Agreement (SLA), the department provides management services, on a user-pays basis, to 26 government departments and agencies with overseas representation, and in one instance to the New Zealand Government. The services are delivered in accordance with the 2007 Prime Minister’s Directive on the Guidelines for the Management of the Australian Government Presence Overseas.

    The SLA sets out the obligations of the department and other agencies for each category of management service and determines service delivery standards. The services include financial, human resources and property management services for Australia-based employees and locally-engaged staff in posts managed by the department.

    Feedback from our SLA clients throughout the year has been positive. Our annual Post Evaluation Report (PER) process is the principal means for the department to obtain feedback on our work from other agencies. In 2008–09 the PER process again showed a high level of satisfaction in the department’s input to achieving whole-of-government objectives (see Section 3).

    We will work on establishing a new SLA for services provided to other government agencies in our overseas network by June 2010.

    Under separate memorandums of understanding the department also provided information and communication technology services to 31 agencies in Australia and overseas, and payroll services to 11 agencies overseas (see Appendix 9).

    Services to business

    The department worked in partnership with Austrade in Australia and overseas to implement the Government’s trade policy, trade promotion and trade development agenda. We made high-level representations to governments on behalf of Australian business; liaised closely with Austrade on arrangements for public consultation programs for Heads of Mission and Senior Trade Commissioners; and undertook joint trade promotion and public diplomacy activities involving both agencies.

    The department provided formal and informal mechanisms for business input into trade policy. We consulted extensively with industry representatives, state and territory governments, non-government organisations and community groups on the Government’s negotiations in the World Trade Organization, as well as negotiations towards regional and bilateral free trade agreements.

    Market information and research

    The department continued to offer a consultancy service providing statistical information and advice, on a fee-for-service basis, to the Australian community, businesses and researchers interested in overseas markets. The service included trade and economic data on Australia’s trading and business relationships with over 220 countries, as well as wider information on the global trade of over 100 countries (accounting for around 90 per cent of total world trade). We produced a wide range of statistical publications covering the composition and direction of Australia’s international trade in goods and services, all available online.

    Our network of state and territory offices

    Through our network of offices in all states and the Northern Territory, we maintained a close relationship with state and territory governments, providing them with a direct liaison point on foreign and trade policy issues. The network also provided a local point of contact for business, community groups and non-government organisations. State and territory offices supported the Ministerial Council on International Trade and worked closely with Austrade, engaging with peak business groups and companies on the Government’s trade policy agenda. In addition, state and territory offices, in consultation with the department in Canberra and overseas posts, helped states and territories to meet their international objectives by facilitating overseas contacts and visits.

    Personal Profile:

    Philippa King

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    Philippa King
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    Philippa King took up the job as State Director in the NSW State Office in August 2008. The role of the State Office is to maintain a close relationship with the NSW Government and to make sure the Australian and NSW Governments work together on their international agendas. To that end the State Office assists the Premier and ministers with their international programs, and advises the NSW Government on the Australian Government’s foreign and trade policy priorities. The State Office also works closely with the Office of the Governor of NSW on a range of international issues.

    Sydney is home to one of the largest consular corps in the world. Philippa and the State Office team provide a range of services to the corps and work closely with them on visits by foreign dignitaries and on broader aspects of our relationships with those countries. The State Office works closely with all the security agencies, particularly the NSW Police, to protect the security of consulates in Sydney and to address their specific concerns.

    ‘An important part of my job is advocating the Australian Government’s foreign and trade policy agenda to members of the community in NSW, and to help the community connect with that agenda. So I speak regularly to the business community, NGOs, think tanks, educational institutions, and members of the public about issues of interest to them, and I help them to connect directly with decision-makers in Canberra.’

    Services to state governments and other agencies overseas and in Australia

    Photo - See caption below for description
    Western Australian Minister for Education and Tourism, Dr Elizabeth Constable (left), with Australian Ambassador to China, Dr Geoff Raby (right), Australian Consul-General in Shanghai, Mr Tom Connor (second from right), and Chief Representative of Western Australian Trade and Investment Promotion, Shanghai Office, Mr B.J. Zhuang (second from left), at the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the commencement of Approved Destination Status, in China in April 2009.
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    The department played a significant role supporting visits overseas by state and territory ministers, parliamentarians and officials. By promoting business, tourism, education and people-to-people ties, such visits strengthen Australia’s relationships with key foreign partner governments, including at the sub-national level. A large number of state, territory and federal government ministers travelled extensively in 2008–09, including:


    The department will continue to accord a high priority to the provision of services to Parliament. We will ensure that federal parliamentarians, parliamentary delegations and committees are apprised of the Government’s foreign and trade policy priorities and supported overseas in their efforts to advance Australia’s interests. We will manage parliamentary Questions on Notice and ministerial correspondence in a timely and efficient manner.

    Effective and positive consultation with the business sector and state and territory governments on trade policy issues will remain a priority. The department’s close work with and support for the business community, state and territory governments and other agencies will continue, both overseas and in Australia. Key steps will also be taken to establish a new Service Level Agreement for services provided to other government agencies in our overseas network by June 2010.

    output 1.3 additional information

      2008–09 2007–08
    Number of other agencies provided administrative services overseas under service level agreements1 27 24
    Number of official programs organised for members of the Australian Parliament (excluding the Prime Minister or ministers) and parliamentary delegations2 127 53
    Number of services provided to parliamentary committees3 50 34
    Number of overseas visits by representatives of state or territory governments, and by state and territory parliamentarians, supported by the department4 470 534
    Number of Australian companies supported by the department with advice on market conditions, access to government and private sector contacts, and through representations directly connected with their particular interests5 8262 8119

    1 This is the number of agencies serviced under the Service Level Agreement. The services provided under the agreement are grouped together in six categories: personnel services (Australia-based staff), personnel services (locally engaged staff), office services, property services, financial services and communications.
    2 This figure is based on work undertaken by each post; that is, it reflects the number of programs organised on a country-by-country basis, rather than the number of Members of Parliament and Senators assisted by the department in Canberra.
    3 This figure reflects the number of committee hearings before which the department appeared.
    4 This figure is based on work undertaken by each post; that is, it reflects the number of programs organised on a country-by-country basis.
    5 This information was collected by all areas of the department, including overseas posts, and collated centrally. It reflects the number of companies supported on a country-by-country basis.

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