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Wednesday, 13 May 1987
Page: 3143

(Question No. 5170)


Mr Scott asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 17 March 1987:

(1) Who (a) selects and (b) appoints the Australian delegates or representatives to the International Atomic Energy Agency and its committees and working parties, including the International Consultative Group on Food Irradiation (ICGFI).

(2) Are there any criteria which apply to non-departmental persons who may be appointed as delegates or representatives.

(3) Are non-departmental persons appointed to ICGFI selected after the vacancy has been the subject of public advertisement or are these persons nominated by specific interest groups.


Mr Hayden —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) (a) and (b). The process whereby Australian representation at meetings convened by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is determined is dependent upon the nature of the meeting. The Australian Ambassador in Vienna, who is also the Resident Representative of Australia to the (IAEA) is appointed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Resident Representative is empowered to represent the Australian Government at a range of IAEA meetings, normally those of its policy-making organs and related Committees.

In this role the Ambassador may be supported by alternate representatives or advisers drawn from the Australian Mission in Vienna or, in some cases, from Australia itself. Such delegations are normally agreed upon at officials level following consultation coordinated by the Department of Foreign Affairs with relevant departments and agencies. Where such meetings or conferences involve formal negotiations on issues of substance for Australia, such as the IAEA General Conference, the Minister for Foreign Affairs normally considers and approves the composition of the delegation and signs the necessary credentials.

As Australia is also the designated representative for the South East Asian and Pacific Region on the IAEA Board of Governors, it is current practice for the Resident Representative also to be appointed by the Minister as Australian Governor on the IAEA Board.

Australian representation on technical level bodies convened by the IAEA is normally decided at officials level. The Department of Foreign Affairs coordinates such representation, taking into account the views and requirements of relevant Departments, the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and the Australian Safeguards Office.

On certain advisory groups and working parties, the IAEA itself invites particular Australian experts to participate in the work of meetings. Such experts may be drawn from outside the Government.

Consistent with this practice, representation at the annual meetings of the International Consultative Group on Food Irradiation (ICGFI) has been determined by officials following consultation. This has involved officials from the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Health and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (formerly the Australian Atomic Energy Commission). The pattern of representation to date is set out in the answer given by the Minister representing the Minister for Resources and Energy in his reply to Question on Notice No. 5082. Representation has had to take into account limitations on funds available for travel by Government officials to overseas conferences.

(2) I have approved the following standing arrangements which govern the participation, by invitation from the Australian Government, of non-government representatives in Australian Government delegations. These are:

(i) During the attachment, the representative will be subject to the authority of the Head of Delegation, and for the purpose of the conference or meeting will be bound by the policy directives determined by the Australian Government.

(ii) The representative should not advocate publicly positions contrary to official policy, although this may be done within the Delegation. The representative may put views privately to other delegations, if desired, provided that it is made clear where these differ from those of the Australian Delegation.

(iii) Except in circumstances determined by the Head of Delegation, the representative should not speak on behalf of the Australian Government in the conference or the meeting, with foreign representatives or with the press.

(iv) The representative will normally be invited to attend delegation meetings, except those which the Head of Delegation might consider especially sensitive.

(v) The representative will be given access to relevant official documents at the discretion of the Head of the Delegation. Should it prove necessary to his/her function, and provided he/she holds a current security clearance, access may also be given by the Head of Delegation to certain security classified documents. These must be treated in accordance with the Government's standing security instructions and must not be divulged to persons not authorised to receive them. Moreover, classified documents must not be copied, and must be returned to the Head of Delegation at the end of the meeting. Security clearance procedures will not be initiated without the consent of the individual concerned. The lack of a security clearance would not mean that the representative could not participate in the Delegation, but it would mean that he/she would be unable to have access to security classified material.

(vi) The above restrictions do not, of course, preclude the representative from briefing other non-governmental organisations about the outcome of the conference or meeting, so long as specific references to matters regarded as confidential to the Delegation is avoided.

(vii) The Government will not be responsible for any costs associated with the participation of the representative.

The Chairman of the former Australian Atomic Energy Commission has served as Australian Representative and as Alternate to meetings of the IAEA General Conference. Otherwise, non-departmental persons have not been appointed in a representative capacity to meetings of government representatives in the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Delegates to technical level meetings are normally selected on the basis of their expertise and availability, following consultation between relevant Departments and agencies, and having regard to the requirement for attendance in terms of Australian policy interests and the availability of funds.

As set out in the answer to (1) above, the IAEA directly invites particular Australian experts to participate in certain advisory groups and technical level meetings. It does so at its own initiative on the basis of the known expertise of the expert involved, its relevance to the subject under discussion and, in some cases, the desirability of a spread of geographic representation.

(3) Non-departmental persons who have served on ICGFI task forces have done so at the direct invitation of ICGFI. Representation at the annual ICGFI meeting is, as stated above, determined by officials following consultation. Further details are to be found in the reply of the Minister representing the Minister for Resources and Energy to Question on Notice No. 5082.