Saturday 21 Jul 2018 | 19:53 | SYDNEY
Saturday 21 Jul 2018 | 19:53 | SYDNEY

Bipartisan support for a stronger DFAT?


Alex Oliver


23 August 2011 15:45

In parliament yesterday the Labor member for Melbourne Ports, Michael Danby, tabled the report of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade on DFAT's 2009-10 Annual Report.

In an unusual show of bipartisanship, both Mr Danby and the Liberal Shadow Minister for Defence Science, Technology and Personnel, Stuart Robert, called for increased Government support for Australia's beleaguered Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Referring to the Institute's earlier Diplomatic Deficit report and Diplomatic Disrepair, released yesterday, Mr Danby urged an inquiry to address Australia's small diplomatic footprint and the 'long-term relative decline in the funding of the department'.

Stuart Robert went further, naturally:

...the report (Diplomatic Disrepair) speaks of a broken department and a grossly inadequate diplomatic footprint with too few international posts and too many bureaucrats in Canberra...Less than a quarter of DFAT staff speak a second language and less than 10 per cent speak an Asian language...For a highly globalised country facing a more challenging external environment, Australia's diplomatic footprint remains too limited.

Hammering home his (and our) point, he says, twice:

...the Lowy report states: 'unless these deficiencies are remedied, our economic, political and security interests could be seriously jeopardised’.

It remains to be seen whether this rare moment of agreement translates into concrete support for Australia's run-down diplomatic infrastructure.

Photo by Flickr user Long Zheng.