Annual Report 2008-2009
 

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

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OUTPUT 1.4: Services to diplomatic and consular representatives in Australia

OUTPUT 1.4

On this page: Overview :: Services to the diplomatic and consular corps :: Protection of diplomatic and consular missions :: Engagement with the diplomatic and consular corps :: Outlook

The department will provide high-quality services to the diplomatic and consular corps in Australia.

Key Performance Indicators 2008–09 Target
  • Efficient delivery of high-quality services to the diplomatic and consular corps
  • Ensure timely, accurate and transparent decisions on diplomatic visas, accreditation and privileges

  • Progress policy issues affecting financial privileges including rates payments and reciprocal tax concessions

  • Ensure that diplomatic privileges and immunities are not abused and that foreign officials respect Australian law

  • Promote awareness within relevant agencies of Commonwealth, state and territory governments of the rights and obligations of diplomatic and consular officials
  • Client satisfaction with the standard and responsiveness of protection services provided to diplomatic and consular representatives
  • Maintain close engagement with Security Coordination Branch, Attorney-General’s Department (successor to the Protective Security Coordination Centre), and diplomatic missions to protect the security and dignity of missions in line with Australia’s obligations under the Vienna Conventions

  • Cooperate with agencies, airlines and diplomatic missions to protect the dignity of high-level foreign visitors to Australia
  • Overview

    The department provided visa, accreditation and a range of other services to facilitate the work of diplomatic and consular representatives and their offices in Australia. Despite the high demand for services arising from a diplomatic and consular community totalling more than 4700 officials and dependants, most were delivered within short timeframes and we received positive feedback on the quality and transparency of our support. The implementation of a new information management system improved the efficiency of the department’s services to the diplomatic and consular corps, particularly regarding the issuing of ID cards and renewal of visas.

    The department continued to accord a high priority to protecting the security and dignity of diplomatic and consular representatives in Australia. We worked closely with the Security Coordination Branch, the Attorney-General’s Department, the Australian Federal Police and other relevant agencies to respond to issues of concern to individual missions and posts.

    Services to the diplomatic and consular corps

    Photo - See caption below for description
    Malaysian High Commissioner to Australia, HE Dato Salman Bin Ahmad (seated third from left), after presenting his Letter of Credence to the Governor-General, Ms Quentin Bryce AC (seated third from right) on 26 February 2009. Also pictured are the then Secretary, Mr Michael L’Estrange AO (seated far right), and the Chief of Protocol, Ms Anne Moores (seated far left).
    Photo: Michael Jensen
    Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

    The department provided services to 94 diplomatic missions resident in Canberra, 34 non-resident diplomatic missions and 339 consular posts representing 151 countries in total, as well as nine international organisations. Thirty-eight new resident and ten non-resident heads of mission were accredited to Australia in 2008–09. We shared responsibilities with other Australian Government agencies to assist the corps on issues such as security, immigration, customs and quarantine matters, airport facilitation, land and premises for foreign missions, taxation and motor vehicle registration.

    New arrangements were signed with the governments of Nepal, Kenya, Turkey, Mongolia and Portugal to regulate the employment of dependants of the Australian corps. This took to 38 the number of bilateral employment arrangements in place, each of which carry important reciprocal benefits for the dependants of our staff working in Australian missions abroad.

    We also finalised reciprocal indirect tax concession arrangements with 11 countries (Brazil, Egypt, Eritrea, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Iraq, Libya, Nepal, Oman, Paraguay and Vietnam), providing indirect tax concessions for certain goods and services. The arrangements have been reflected in amendment determinations that are subject to Parliamentary review.

    The department facilitated the establishment of new embassies for Tonga, Mongolia and Cuba in Canberra, as well as the opening of six new consular posts headed by career consuls in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne and five new honorary consulates. We finalised and implemented a review of honorary consuls. The review led to streamlined arrangements for the processing of new honorary consul appointments and simplified requests to renew accreditation.

    Protection of diplomatic and consular missions

    The department devoted significant resources to ensuring that Australia met its obligations with regard to the security and dignity of missions and posts and their staff. In addition to maintaining appropriate standing arrangements for all missions, we responded to specific short-term security issues affecting various missions during the year. The department contributed resources to ensure the protection and protocol requirements of VIP visitors for World Youth Day 2008 were managed successfully. The corps expressed appreciation for the protocol duty officer in providing assistance to missions on issues arising outside working hours.

    Engagement with the diplomatic and consular corps

    The Ministers’ 2008 mid-year function for the diplomatic corps featured the biennial Sir Alan Westerman lecture in Australian trade policy, delivered by the Minister for Trade, Mr Crean. The lecture focused on the Government’s commitment to aligning trade and development assistance policies. The Secretary hosted the traditional Christmas reception in honour of the corps. The Prime Minister, Mr Smith and Mr Crean attended the Christmas reception.

    A presentation on the Defence White Paper was well received by the corps, as were briefings on the National Security Statement and Australia’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. Other briefings were held on Australia’s response to H1N1 influenza, Australia’s treaty-making process and new airport facilitation arrangements for visiting foreign dignitaries. We developed an information pack for all newly arrived private domestic employees of diplomatic officers. The pack included general advice on life in Canberra and community services available. Key sections of the booklet were translated into Indonesian, Tagalog, Sinhala and Tamil. Domestic employees were provided with identity cards.

    Outlook

    The department will continue to provide high-quality and timely services to the diplomatic and consular corps, with security a paramount consideration. Consistency of approach and transparency will remain hallmarks of the department’s dealings with the corps, as we continue to expand outreach to members of the corps and their dependants, and to encourage dialogue. The department will continue to actively pursue new dependant employment agreements with countries where they are not yet in place.

    output 1.4 ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

      2008–09 2007–08
         
    Number of diplomatic representatives for whom the department provides services 998 935
    Number of consular representatives for whom the department provides services 856 892
    Number and category of services provided:    
    visas issued for the corps 2307 2172
    arrivals and departures processed 1329 1541
    identity cards issued 1300 1204
    presentation of credentials 38 24
    exequaturs issued 36 22
    facilitation of purchase, registration and disposal of cars by privileged personnel 1065 1469
    requests processed for foreign awards to Australian citizens 98 69
    requests processed for dependants seeking permission to work 58 94
    approvals for new foreign missions in Australia (includes diplomatic missions, consular posts and offices of international organisations) 14 20
    approvals for defence advisers/attaches 13 19

     

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