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The department was abolished on 14 November 1916 and its responsibilities were undertaken by the Prime Minister's Department and the Department of Home and Territories. It was re-established on 21 December 1921.
The Department of External Affairs was renamed the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1970. On 24 July 1987, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Trade were amalgamated by the Hawke Labor Government to form the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
In 2005, DFAT became embroiled in the Oil-for-Food Programmescandal after it was revealed it had approved the Australian Wheat Board's (AWB) request allowing it to pay 'trucking charges' to Alia, a Jordanian trucking company with no actual involvement in the trucking of Australian wheat within Iraq. The Cole Inquiry into the AWB was established, however its terms of reference excluded any investigation of the role of DFAT.
relations and communications with overseas governments and United Nations agencies
treaties, including trade agreements
bilateral, regional and multilateral trade policy
international trade and commodity negotiations
market development, including market access
trade and international business development
international development co-operation
diplomatic and consular missions
international security issues, including disarmament, arms control and nuclear non-proliferation
public diplomacy, including information and cultural programs
Provision to Australian citizens of secure travel identification
Provision of consular services to Australian citizens abroad
Overseas property management, including acquisition, ownership and disposal of real property
Tourism industry (international)
International development and aid
Development and co-ordination of international climate change policy
International climate change negotiations
Secretary of the Department
DFAT is administered by a senior executive, comprising a secretary and five deputy secretaries. On the recommendation of the Prime Minister, the Governor-General has appointed the following individuals as Secretary to the department:
The department is responsible to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, and the Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment.
The department has around 3,300 employees, of whom 1,300 are foreign staff employed by missions directly, and 1,500 are Australian employees based in Australia, and some 500 are diplomats serving overseas.
Office of the Secretary
Internal Audit Branch
Strategic Policy, Contestability and Futures Branch
Global Cooperation, Development and Partnerships Group
Multilateral Policy Division
Development Policy Division
Multilateral Development and Finance Division
Public Diplomacy, Communications & Scholarships Division
Centre for Health Security
Office of Development Effectiveness
Office of the Ambassador for the Environment
International Security, Humanitarian and Consular Group
The department maintains offices in each state and mainland territory to provide consular and passport services, and to perform an important liaison service for business throughout Australia. In addition, it has a Torres Strait Treaty Liaison Office on Thursday Island. Additionally, the department manages a network of over 90 overseas posts, including Australian embassies, high commissions, consulates-general and consulates.
DFAT also manages several agencies within its portfolio, including: