Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 22:36 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 22:36 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: Funding DFAT

29 August 2011 14:15

Kate Grayson, a former adviser to Senator Russell Trood, writes:

The parlous state of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), identified by Andrew Shearer and Alex Oliver, in Diplomatic disrepair: rebuilding Australia's international policy infrastructure, is further reinforced by warnings from the Department in September 2010, in the recently released and publically available Red Book.
The introductory letter (p.2) to the incoming Foreign Minister by the Department's Secretary, Dennis Richardson, discusses resourcing issues and the Gillard Labor Government's review of the diplomatic representation and spending of DFAT in order to achieve savings of A$45.5 million over the forward estimates. The Secretary warns that, 'the department is already badly resourced and further cuts will only detract from some of the gains made since 2007.'
The document (p.162) goes on to advise, 'For more than a decade, we have made significant savings from improved work practices, from information and communications technology and from outsourcing. We believe there is little scope for significant additional savings in these areas. Meeting savings requirements such as the 1.25 per cent efficiency dividend is, therefore, challenging. Moreover, because the department has already harvested potential productivity savings, further 'significant cuts or offsets would require post closures, ceasing functions in Canberra or a combination of these measures. For every A$1 million savings that the department needs to identify, we would need to cut approximately 10 jobs in Canberra or three jobs overseas.'
One only hopes the Gillard Government heeds the warnings from the Department and addresses the some of the crucial areas identified in Diplomatic disrepair.