Foreign Policy White Paper

Terms of Reference

1. Purpose

The Government pursues international engagement to make Australia and Australians more prosperous and more secure. 

The Government will publish a new Foreign Policy White Paper to establish a comprehensive strategy to guide our international engagement over the next 10 years. 

While we cannot predict the future, the White Paper will provide a roadmap for advancing and protecting Australia’s interests in a dynamic, complex and unpredictable international environment.

It will be clear-eyed about Australia’s interests, grounded in our values and ensure Australia is better positioned to seize opportunities and manage risks.

2. Deliverables

The Government has committed to producing a foreign policy strategy by mid-2017 to be published as a White Paper.

The White Paper will be informed by extensive public consultation, to be managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

3. Governance

The Minister for Foreign Affairs will lead the development of the White Paper, in consultation with the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment and other ministers.

A senior Deputy Secretary-level official will oversee development of the White Paper and head an inter-agency taskforce located in DFAT.

A whole-of-government board, chaired by the lead official, will guide its development. The board will ensure the White Paper aligns with the Government’s economic agenda and existing policy initiatives as well as secure whole-of-government input and support.

4. Full Public Consultation

The White Paper Taskforce will consult experts, business and the public to ensure the White Paper is informed by the best possible advice.

There will be a call for written submissions. The taskforce will also conduct roundtable discussions in each state and territory capital and liaise extensively with stakeholders.

The Commonwealth Government will collaborate closely with State and Territory Governments on the White Paper.

5. Areas of Focus

The White Paper will:

  • Examine the foreign, security, economic and international development issues and global trends shaping Australia’s international environment;
  • Define Australia’s interests and policy priorities in response to that environment;
  • In light of those interests, outline how Australia should advance relations with major international partners;
  • Identify approaches to support and better utilise multilateral and regional structures to promote and protect Australia’s interests and values;
  • Establish a roadmap to pursue Australia’s economic interests as an open, export-oriented market economy to ensure we continue to capitalise on our competitive advantages, guard against economic risks and maximise national prosperity;
  • Examine how Australia should promote its regulations, institutions and standards in the region, and globally, to support our commercial interests;
  • Assess options for mitigating and responding to security risks, including strategic competition in the Indo-Pacific and transnational threats;
  • Outline how we can promote prosperity and stability through our aid program with a focus on the Indo-Pacific; and
  • Examine how we should best use our assets to pursue our interests internationally.