Ensuring consistent Australian foreign policy

  • Media release
08 December 2020

The Australian Parliament today passed legislation to ensure that arrangements entered by States and Territories, local governments and Australian public universities with foreign governments are consistent with Australia’s foreign policy.

Under Australia’s Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Act 2020, the Minister for Foreign Affairswill have the power to prevent prospective foreign arrangements from proceeding, or to cancel existing arrangements, where that arrangement is not consistent with Australia’s foreign policy or adversely affects Australia’s foreign relations.

States and Territories play a very important role in advancing Australia’s interests globally. From trade and economic cooperation, to cultural collaboration, to university research partnerships, States and Territories build links that support Australia’s economy and project our values abroad. This legislation provides a mechanism for States and Territories to consult with the Commonwealth on that international engagement. It also establishes a public register to provide transparency about State and Territory foreign arrangements.

In an increasingly globalised world, States and Territories and their entities are accordingly engaging more frequently at high levels with foreign governments and their entities, with tangible impacts on Australia’s foreign relations. This increased engagement, and the growing strategic complexity of the 21st century, brings greater risks, requiring more consultation and due diligence to ensure States and Territories are aligned with the Commonwealth’s foreign policy.

This legislation is necessary to appropriately manage and protect Australia’s foreign relations and the consistency of our nation’s foreign policy.

This legislation will ensure stronger connection between the Commonwealth and States and Territories on matters of foreign policy and foreign relations. The Government looks forward to working with State and Territory colleagues to promote Australia’s interests on the international stage.

The Government will report annually to the Parliament on the decisions the Foreign Minister has made under the Act. A new Foreign Arrangements Taskforce has been established in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to implement the legislation.

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