Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)


Budget Review 2009-10 Index

Budget 2009 10: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)

Nina Markovic

In contrast to the last financial year, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has received an increase in funding for 2009–10. Total net resourcing available to the DFAT portfolio in the 2009–10 Budget is $1.99 billion.[1] This represents an increase of $409.2 million or 25.8 per cent from the actual available net resourcing for DFAT in 2008–09.

The departmental estimate for 2009–10 shows an increase of $299.1 million or 33.5 per cent—compared with the actual available appropriation for 2008–09.  However, this estimate includes $215.44 million that was appropriated in 2008–09 and carried forward, as well as an increase of $88.8 million.

One of the new measures in the 2009–10 Budget comprises additional resourcing of
$9.7 million over two years (including $1.1 million in capital funding in 2009–10) towards the Department’s anti-smuggling activities. This measure includes the establishment of new diplomatic positions in Australia’s embassies in Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.[2] In addition the 2009–10 Budget allocated $106.5 million over four years for strengthening the Department’s contribution to national security which includes funding for additional staff and resources at a number of overseas posts and in Canberra.[3]

The Government has allocated $11.2 million over two years in advance preparation for Australia’s bid for a non-permanent two-year seat on the UN Security Council in 2013–14.[4] The Budget also provides $106 million for the strengthening of Australia’s diplomatic relations with Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Africa and Latin America. The Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, has focused on the African and Latin American component of this measure suggesting that it is connected to Australia’s bid for a UN Security Council seat.[5] She has criticised the Budget on the grounds that it focuses too much on winning the UN Security Council seat, instead of keeping its focus predominantly on the Asia Pacific region.

Changes in departmental outcomes and staffing numbers

Following a review announced in the 2008–09 Budget, DFAT’s departmental outcomes have been streamlined from four into three in the 2009–10 Budget.[6]

A revised outcome one for the Department comprises ‘the advancement of Australia’s international strategic, security and economic interests’ through a range of bilateral, multilateral and regional engagement measures.[7] Public information services and public diplomacy have been combined to form program 1.3 under outcome one, and funded with $60.21 million in 2009–10.[8] This amount includes funding for the Australia Network as well as the International Relations Grants Program, but excludes funding for the Shanghai World Expo 2010, which is funded through other accounts.[9]

The Budget predicts that in 2009–10, the staffing levels for outcome one will be increased by 62.[10] The estimated expenses regarding payments to international organisations will increase by about 13 per cent, from an estimated $292.6 million in 2008–09 to an estimated $330.7 million in 2009–10.[11] The revised outcome one in the 2009–10 Budget also provides a definition of Australia’s national interests, which includes promoting ‘international strategic, security and economic interests’ as the central objective of Australian diplomacy.

Outcome two comprises ‘the protection and welfare of Australians abroad and access to secure international travel documentation’ through the Department’s travel advice and consular and passport services.[12] Under outcome two, the Government has separated consular and passport services into two programs. In departmental expenses the Budget allocated $81.01 million to the consular services program in 2009–10, and $187.65 million to the passport services program—an increase of $5.1 million for the latter.[13] The staffing levels for this outcome have essentially remained constant, with one less staff member envisaged in 2009–10.

Outcome three—formerly outcome four—was revised to include, apart from the ‘efficient management of the Commonwealth overseas owned estate’, an element of national security. It also includes ‘a secure Australian Government presence overseas’ through a range of measures.[14] The Budget for 2009–10 provided additional capital funding of $87.5 million over five years and $269.5 million over six years for enhanced security arrangements at the Australian embassies in Bangkok and Jakarta, respectively.[15] The Government also allocated $3 million in departmental expenses for 2009–10 towards a feasibility study and planning work for a more secure Australian embassy in Kabul. The staffing levels have, correspondingly, increased by 41 for this outcome.

DFAT’s total staffing levels will increase by 102, from an estimated 3461 to an estimated 3563 in 2009–10.[16] It is likely that DFAT will open new positions in Canberra and overseas during 2009–10.

Middle East

With Australia’s planned withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq in July 2009, the Government’s focus is now on Afghanistan with $4.1 million being allocated towards increased non-military assistance for Afghanistan.[17] This is in line with recent analysis that supports the need for more funding for diplomatic initiatives and public diplomacy in the Middle East due to this region’s relevance to Australia’s long-term security interests and to counter people smugglers. This case was recently put in a detailed study commissioned by the Lowy Institute for International Policy—the Blue Ribbon Panel Report.[18]

Other funding initiatives

In line with the Government’s priorities, the 2009–10 Budget also announced the following funding initiatives for DFAT:

  • $28.1 million from 2010–11 for counter-terrorism activities, predominantly in Southeast Asia[19]
  • $54.21 million over four years, including $18.7 million in capital funding, to enhance security at Australian diplomatic and consular overseas missions—in particular, in Thailand and Indonesia[20]
  • $9.2 million over two years for the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament—which is expected to complete its work in 2010, when the universal Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference will take place,[21] and  
  • $9.7 million over two years, including $1.1 million in capital funding, towards the implementation of the whole-of-government approach to people smuggling. This measure includes funding for a full-time Ambassador for People Smuggling Issues, continued funding for the Bali Process, and funding for the establishment of new positions in Jakarta, Colombo, Islamabad and Kuala Lumpur to increase engagement with those countries which serve as a transit point for people smugglers.[22]

For more specific measures on people smuggling see the ‘Immigration’ section of this Budget Review.



[1].      Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2009–10: budget related paper no. 1.9: Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2009, pp. 16–17, viewed 13 May 2009, http://www.dfat.gov.au/dept/budget/2009_2010_pbs/2009-10_DFAT.pdf

[2].      Australian Government, Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2009–10, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2009, viewed 13 May 2009, http://www.budget.gov.au/2009-10/content/bp2/html/bp2_expense-15.htm

[3].      S Smith (Minister for Foreign Affairs), Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio - budget 2009–10, media release, 12 May 2009, viewed 13 May 2009, http://www.foreignminister.gov.au/releases/2009/fa-s090512_budget1.html

[4].      Australian Government, Australia: United Nations Security Council Candidate 2013–14, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, viewed 15 May 2009, http://www.dfat.gov.au/un/unga.html Another measure for 2009–10 includes a continued funding for Australia’s ‘Asia Pacific Community’ proposal—which is intended to draw all major players from the Asia Pacific region into a broadly encompassing dialogue on regional issues.

[5].      J Bishop (Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs), Taxpayer funds wasted in pursuit of temporary seat on UN Security Council, media release, 15 May 2009, viewed 18 May 2009, http://www.liberal.org.au/news.php?Id=3121

[6].      Portfolio budget statements 2009–10, Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio, p. 18.

[7].    Portfolio budget statements 2009–10, Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio, p. 5.

[8].      Portfolio budget statements 2009–10, Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio, p. 34.

[9].      Portfolio budget statements 2009–10, Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio, p. 23.

[10].    Portfolio budget statements 2009–10, Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio, p. 26.

[11]Portfolio budget statements 2009–10, Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio, p. 26.

[12]. Portfolio budget statements 2009–10, Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio, p. 5.

[13].    Portfolio budget statements 2009–10, Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio, p. 39.

[14]. Portfolio budget statements 2009–10, Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio, p. 5.

[15].    Portfolio budget statements 2009–10, Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio, p. 19.

[16].    Portfolio budget statements 2009–10, Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio, pp. 26, 39, 46.

[17].    Portfolio budget statements 2009–10, Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio, p. 21.

[18].    A Gyngell, ‘Rudd erodes diplomacy’, The Australian, 18 March 2009, p. 14, viewed 14 May 2009, http://www.lowyinstitute.org/Publication.asp?pid=997 Blue Ribbon Panel Report, ‘Australia’s diplomatic deficit. Reinvesting in our instruments of international policy’, Lowy Institute for International Policy, March 2009, viewed 14 May 2009, http://www.lowyinstitute.org/Publication.asp?pid=998

[19].    M Dodd, ‘Increased visa fees to fund embassy makeovers’, The Australian, 13 May 2009, p. 10; Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2009–10, p. 257

[20].    Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2009–10, p. 265.

[21].    Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2009–10, p. 258. United Nations, ‘Preparatory Committee for the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference’, viewed 15 May 2009,   http://www.un.org/disarmament/WMD/Nuclear/NPT2010Prepcom/PrepCom2009/index.html

[22].    Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2009–10, p. 254.

 


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