Commencement of the Foreign Arrangements Scheme

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Australia’s new Foreign Arrangements Scheme commenced today, 10 December 2020, following entry into force of the Australia’s Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Act 2020.

The Scheme applies to existing and prospective foreign arrangements. Where an arrangement is not consistent with Australia’s foreign policy, or adversely affects Australia’s foreign relations, the Minister for Foreign Affairs will have the power to prevent prospective arrangements from proceeding or to cancel existing arrangements.

Pre-existing foreign arrangements

Under the Scheme, State/Territory entities are now required to notify the Minister for Foreign Affairs of pre-existing arrangements with foreign government entities:

  • Core foreign arrangements are arrangements between States and Territories and foreign national government entities. Notification of core foreign arrangements must be provided by 10 March 2021.
  • Non-core foreign arrangements are arrangements between local governments, public universities and foreign government entities; and arrangements between States and Territories and foreign government entities other than foreign national governments. Notification of non-core foreign arrangements must be provided by 10 June 2021.

Prospective arrangements

Provisions requiring the notification of prospective core and non-core foreign arrangements will commence on 10 March 2021. From this date, State /Territory entities will be required to:

  • seek the Minister’s approval to negotiate or enter into any core foreign arrangements;
  • notify the Minister when proposing to enter into any non-core foreign arrangements; and
  • notify the Minister after entering into any foreign arrangements, whether core or non-core.