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Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Page: 5617


Ms JULIE BISHOP (10:07 AM) —I take the parliamentary secretary to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s portfolio budget statements, at page 36, program 2.1 Consular services. I point to the fact that the annual departmental expenses for consular services have been reduced by $7.83 million from $83,220,000 this year and by a cut of $2.46 million next year. Is the parliamentary secretary able to explain those cuts in consular services? Is that also due to foreign exchange movements or is it indeed a cut in the activities of consular services?

I point out that the 2008-09 Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade annual report stated that there would be strong and growing demand for consular services, with almost 195,000 services having been provided in 2008-09, up from 185,000 a year earlier and that the department has said that it expects there will be growth in demand for consular services in coming years. One cited example of the growth in demand for consular services was that support was provided to 638 Australians who were hospitalised overseas in 2004-05 and that that had grown to 1,480 people hospitalised overseas in 2008-09. Given that the department says that it expects there will be a growth in demand for consular services in coming years, I ask the parliamentary secretary to explain this item on consular services.