Foreign Policy

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Elements of Australian Foreign Policy

Australia’s foreign policy includes a number of separate, but inter-related policies in the areas of defence and security, trade, international commitments and foreign aid.


The alliance with the United States and New Zealand is the cornerstone of Australia’s defence and foreign policies. Whilst New Zealand no longer participates to any extent in ANZUS, the 50-year-old agreement was invoked by the Australian Government in 2001 in response to the terrorist attacks on the US.

Foreign Aid

Australia’s foreign aid has been falling in recent years, currently sitting at 1.2% of GDP. The largest recipient of Australia’s foreign aid is Papua New Guinea.


Trade has always been at the forefront of Australian’s foreign policy, but never more so than in this era of globalisation.


Australia is a signatory to a large number of international agreements and treaties, many under the auspices of the United Nations.

Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT)

DFAT is one of the “glamour” departments in the Australian Public Service. A prestigious ministry always held by a senior member of the government, DFAT’s relationship with its minister and the Prime Minister is integral to an understanding of how foreign policy is developed.

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