Ensuring a consistent Australian foreign policy

Media release
27 Aug 2020
Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Women

The Morrison Government will introduce new legislation to ensure the arrangements states, territories, councils and universities have with foreign governments are consistent with Australian foreign policy.

The Commonwealth Government has exclusive responsibility for conducting Australia’s foreign affairs. However, state and territory governments and their entities currently also enter into arrangements with foreign governments in a range of areas – from trade and economic cooperation to cultural collaboration and university research partnerships – without having to inform the Commonwealth.

Under the reforms, the Foreign Minister will have the power to review any existing and prospective arrangements between state and territory governments and all foreign governments.

Arrangements that adversely affect Australia’s foreign relations or are inconsistent with our foreign policy could be prevented from proceeding or terminated.

The laws will cover state or territory entities, including departments, agencies, local governments and universities established under state or territory law.

The Commonwealth Government has the policy expertise and comprehensive understanding of the risks and opportunities associated with any arrangements with foreign governments.

This legislation will support state and territory governments to ensure they are acting in a way that serves Australia’s national interests, is consistent with our values and aligned with our foreign policy objectives. This will give states and territories the confidence necessary to enter into arrangements with foreign government entities.

The Morrison Government looks forward to working closely with state and territory governments, councils and universities and providing all Australians with the certainty that all levels of government are aligned to ensure a consistent approach to managing Australia’s foreign relations.