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15 - Australia’s Foreign Policy Machinery

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 May 2024

James Cotton
Affiliation:
University of New South Wales, Sydney
John Ravenhill
Affiliation:
Australian National University, Canberra
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Summary

The machinery of Australia’s foreign policy-making was transformed during the first decade of the twenty-first century, perhaps more profoundly than at any stage since the creation of an independent Department of External Affairs in November 1935. Until that time, the foreign affairs function of the Commonwealth government had been administered from within the Prime Minister’s Department. From its modest beginnings in 1935 in a clutch of rooms on the ground floor of Canberra’s West Block administrative building, the Department of External Affairs, then Foreign Affairs, then Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) grew steadily in size and confidence. When DFAT moved into its imposing new headquarters on the edge of State Circle in 1996, it symbolised a coming of age of a powerful, confident bureau of state with full and independent stewardship of the nation’s foreign affairs. While prime ministers from Sir Robert Menzies to Paul Keating may have felt strongly about particular international causes, few questioned that DFAT and its ministers played the central role in initiating and implementing policy across the full suite of Australia’s international interests.

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Chapter
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Australia in World Affairs 2006–2010
Middle Power Dreaming
, pp. 226 - 236
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
First published in: 2024

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