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Tuesday, 16 November 1976
Page: 2744

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

Is it a fact that in Australian Missions abroad, officers of his Department have been appointed Charge D 'Affaires a.i. over the head of more senior attached officers and that this even happens in posts in which the predominant activity is the function of the department represented by these attached officers.

Mr Peacock - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

It is normal practice for the senior officer of the Department responsible for the administration of a missionnormally my Department- to be placed in charge of the mission in the absence of the Head of Mission. This practice is administratively convenient, and reflects the fact that the direction of Australia's predominant interest in any one country is not necessarily constant.

It also reflects the consideration, in no way derogatory of the capacities and flexibility of attached officers, that my Department is responsible for the totality of the relationship with the country in question; and that supervision of the activities of the mission as a whole, even on a temporary basis, would divert the senior attached officer in question from the more specialised function which he was appointed to perform into areas in which his Department would have little interest or experience.

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