The Australia-China Council was established on 17 May 1978 under an Order-in-Council. It reports to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Article 2(1) of the Order-in-Council establishing the Council provides for a membership of a Chair, and not less than four and not more than 16 other members. On 30 June 1998, the Council consisted of a Chair and eleven other members. Members are appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Members receive a sitting fee in line with the rate set by the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973, as amended, for part-time members of non-statutory bodies. Under the Order-in-Council members are also entitled to reimbursement for travel and accommodation expenses actually incurred while on business as a member of the Council
The Council holds three-four meetings each calendar year to discuss issues in the bilateral relationship, decide on funding priorities and monitor implementation of its decisions. Two meetings were held during the reporting period:
71st meeting: 27 October 1998, Beijing
The Order-in-Council of 17 May 1978 does not require the Australia-China Council to prepare an annual report. The first Chair of the Council submitted an annual report to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and this practice continued to 1993-94. The last report covered the period 1994-98.
In October 1998 the Council produced an information brochure outlining its objectives and key areas of activity. The brochure is printed in English and Chinese.
The Council secretariat maintains a web page on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade web site at www.dfat.gov.au/acc
The financial affairs of the Council are examined by the Australian National Audit Office as part of its examination of the accounts of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Since July 1997 the Australia-China Council secretariat has been located in the East Asia Branch, China Bilateral Section, of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The secretariat is staffed by two departmental officers and manages implementation of council decisions and administers council programs, funding and activities.
On 30 June 1999 the secretariat consisted of:
Ms Michele Grant, Director (from June 1998)
Ms Jenny Hanna held the position of Project Officer in the secretariat from June 1998 to February 1999.
The secretariat liaises closely with the Counsellor (Public Affairs and Cultural) at the Australian Embassy in Beijing (during the reporting period this was Mr Anthony Taylor). Council activities in China receive assistance from the Australian Embassy and other China posts.
The Council operates a trust fund under s.62A of the Audit Act 1901. The trust account allocation for 1998-99 was $636 000 and the carryover from 1997-98 was $115 031.
Industrial democracy and workplace diversity
Secretariat staff are covered under the industrial democracy and workplace diversity programs of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as well as the Department's Certified Agreement 1998-2000.
Freedom of information
In the reporting period the Council did not receive any applications under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.