Terms of Reference

Inquiry into the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for Australia’s foreign affairs,
defence and trade


The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how closely an inter-connected world links domestic outcomes with international events. Over the medium and long-term the pandemic will affect every aspect of Australia’s global relationships.

The quality and security of Australia’s supply chains is of critical importance to the nation’s physical and economic health. Part of the responsibility of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is to negotiate trade agreements that link multiple economies and ‘help Australian businesses reduce transaction costs and better access global supply chains’ , which in turn stimulates investment and supports one in five Australian jobs.

The Annual Report also highlights DFAT’s role in keeping Australia safe and secure; acknowledging that ‘... threats are diverse and evolving, from nuclear weapons proliferation to terrorist insurgency, cyber attack and transnational crime.’ To counter these threats, DFAT reports that ‘Australia’s interests are strongly served by acting with others to support an international rules-based order’. The commitment to a stable, rules-based global order is also a core part of Defence’s strategic direction, as set out in its Annual Report.

Both DFAT and Defence respond to humanitarian crises and work to build resilience in our international partners. The pandemic has shown the close link between Australia’s safety and the vulnerability of our near neighbours.

Given that many of the implications of the pandemic are not yet known, and many decisions are still to be made, the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade will undertake an inquiry under the terms of reference below to better inform Australia’s position

Term of reference

The Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade will inquire into the strategic implications of COVID19, having particular regard to:

  • Implications for Australia’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade policy, particularly with respect to strategic alliances and regional security;
  • Threats to the global rules based order that emerged due to actions by nation states during the pandemic, and how such threats can be mitigated in the event of future crises;
  • The impact on human rights;
  • Supply chain integrity / assurance to critical enablers of Australian security (such as health, economic and transport systems, and defence);
  • What policy and practical measures would be required to form an ongoing effective national framework to ensure the resilience required to underpin Australia’s economic and strategic objectives;
  • Any related matters.


Committee Secretariat contact:

Committee Secretary
Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
PO Box 6021
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Phone: +61 2 6277 2313

About this inquiry

The Committee will inquire into the strategic implications of COVID19 for Australia’s foreign affairs, defence and trade.

Past Public Hearings

16 Sep 2020: Canberra
15 Sep 2020: Canberra
02 Sep 2020: Canberra


Inquiry Status

Submissions Closed


If you require any special arrangements to enable you to participate in the Committee's inquiry, please contact the Committee Secretariat.

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