The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (also called DFAT, ˈdiː.fæˑt, DEE-fat) is the department of the Government of Australia responsible for foreign policy, foreign relations, foreign aid, consular services, and trade and investment.
The head of the department is the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, presently Frances Adamson, who reports to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, presently Senator Marise Payne. Subordinate ministers include the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, presently Senator Simon Birmingham; the Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific, presently Ann Ruston; and the Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, presently Mark Coulton MP, who support the administration of the department.
|Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade|
The R. G. Casey Building, head office of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in Barton, ACT
|Formed||24 July 1987|
|Jurisdiction||Government of Australia|
|Motto||Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally|
|Employees||4,958 (at June 2014)|
|Annual budget||A$1.5 billion (2006/07)|
The department finds its origins in two of the seven original Commonwealth Departments established following Federation: the Department of Trade and Customs and the Department of External Affairs, headed by Harry Wollaston and Atlee Hunt respectively.
The department was abolished on 14 November 1916 and its responsibilities were undertaken by the Prime Minister's Department and the Department of Home and Territories. It was re-established on 21 December 1921.
Until the Second World War, Australia's status as a dominion of the British Empire in the then British Commonwealth meant its foreign relations were mostly defined by the United Kingdom. During this time, Australia's overseas activities were predominantly related to trade and commercial interests, while its external affairs were concerned mostly with immigration, exploration and publicity. The political and economic changes wrought by the Great Depression and Second World War, and the adoption of the 1931 Statute of Westminster (ratified by Australia in 1942), necessitated the establishment and expansion of Australian representation overseas, independent of the British Foreign Office. Australia began to establish its first overseas missions (outside London) in 1940, beginning with Washington, D.C., and now has a network of over 80 diplomatic (and 22 trade) posts.
The Department of External Affairs was renamed the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1970. On 24 July 1987, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Trade were amalgamated by the Hawke Labor Government to form the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
In 2005, DFAT became embroiled in the Oil-for-Food Programme scandal after it was revealed it had approved the Australian Wheat Board's (AWB) request allowing it to pay 'trucking charges' to Alia, a Jordanian trucking company with no actual involvement in the trucking of Australian wheat within Iraq. The Cole Inquiry into the AWB was established, however its terms of reference excluded any investigation of the role of DFAT.
DFAT is administered by a senior executive, comprising a secretary and five deputy secretaries. On the recommendation of the Prime Minister, the Governor-General has appointed the following individuals as Secretary to the department:
|Term in office||Ref(s)|
|1||Stuart Harris AO||23 July 1987||3 July 1988||346 days|||
|2||Richard Woolcott AC||1 September 1988||15 February 1992||3 years, 167 days|||
|3||Peter Wilenski AC||15 February 1992||14 May 1993||1 year, 88 days|||
|4||Michael Costello AO||27 May 1993||8 March 1996||2 years, 286 days|||
|5||Philip Flood AO||8 March 1996||31 March 1998||2 years, 23 days|||
|6||Ashton Calvert AC||1 April 1998||4 January 2005||6 years, 278 days|||
|7||Michael L'Estrange AO||24 January 2005||13 August 2009||4 years, 201 days|||
|8||Dennis Richardson AO||13 August 2009||18 October 2012||3 years, 66 days|||
|9||Peter Varghese AO||18 October 2012||22 July 2016||3 years, 278 days|||
|9||Frances Adamson||22 July 2016||incumbent||2 years, 212 days|||
The department is responsible to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, and the Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment.
The department has around 3,300 employees, of whom 1,300 are foreign staff employed by missions directly, and 1,500 are Australian employees based in Australia, and some 500 are diplomats serving overseas.
The department maintains offices in each state and mainland territory to provide consular and passport services, and to perform an important liaison service for business throughout Australia. In addition, it has a Torres Strait Treaty Liaison Office on Thursday Island. Additionally, the department manages a network of over 90 overseas posts, including Australian embassies, high commissions, consulates-general and consulates.
DFAT also manages several agencies within its portfolio, including:
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