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    9.9 Queensland’s international interjurisdictional relationships

    9.9.1 Queensland Government process for foreign arrangements under Australia’s Foreign Relations Act (State and Territory Arrangements) Act 2020 (Cth)

    The Queensland Government has implemented a decentralised approach to meeting its obligations under the Australia’s Foreign Relations Act (State and Territory Arrangements) Act 2020 (Cth) (the Act) are met. Accordingly, agencies are responsible for ensuring they familiarise themselves with Act and make decisions in accordance with the legislation.

    The Act seeks to ensure arrangements between state/territory entities and foreign entities do not adversely affect Australia’s foreign relations and are not inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy (called the ‘foreign policy test’).

    Broadly, the Act applies to foreign arrangements (legally binding or not) between a ‘State/Territory Entity’ and ‘Foreign Entity’. A ‘state/territory entity’ includes any agency of the government, local governments, and public universities.

    The Act creates a tiered system for arrangements based on the parties involved:

    • core foreign arrangements – between a ‘state/territory entity’ and foreign nation.
    • non-core foreign arrangements – between a ‘state/territory’ and foreign sub national government and any arrangements between local governments and universities and foreign entities.
    • subsidiary arrangements – agreements designed to implement a foreign arrangement. This may include commercial contracts.

    The Act establishes the Foreign Arrangements Scheme which imposes new obligations on Queensland, for example, relating to negotiation of, and entry to, all new foreign arrangements from 10 March 2021.

    The Foreign Affairs Minister has power to approve or reject negotiations or declare a ‘state/territory entity’ cannot enter an arrangement.

    The Act requires details of foreign arrangements and decisions be available on a Public Register.

    9.9.2 Agencies’ responsibility for compliance with the Act

    Ministers are ultimately responsible for ensuring their portfolio entities comply with the Act. This includes when agencies are considering, negotiating, entering or declaring foreign arrangements.

    All agencies should familiarise themselves with obligations under the Act, and appropriate processes should be embedded within agencies to ensure compliance within all current and future business operations.

    Agencies should consult with the Department of the Premier and Cabinet early on any foreign arrangements intended to be negotiated or entered by their Minister and agency.

    9.9.3 Requirement to notify the Premier when negotiating or entering arrangements

    Ministers are required to notify the Premier, in writing, as the earliest opportunity, where the Minister reasonably believes, in the context of the Act, the negotiations of, or entry in to, a foreign arrangement may carry a level of risk to Queensland requiring the Premier’s attention. In writing to the Premier, the Minister should identify information regarding the:

    • foreign arrangement generally (including proposed parties, dates and scope)
    • significance of the arrangement to Queensland (including benefits and alignment with government’s strategic priorities)
    • risks to Queensland (e.g., fiscal, legal, or reputational) in the context of the Act, and appropriate mitigation or negotiation strategies to respond to these (including whether further approvals such as Cabinet consideration may be appropriate).

    Where a Minister has entered any foreign arrangement subject to the Act, the Minister is required to notify the Premier in writing, and provide a copy and details of the arrangement, confirming obligations of the Act have been complied with.

    Where a foreign arrangement covers two or more agencies, the Minister with primary responsibility for preparation, negotiation, or signing, of the arrangement is required to notify the Premier in consultation with other relevant Ministers. 

    9.9.4 Requirement to notify of adverse declarations by the Federal Government

    Where the Minister for Foreign Affairs makes an adverse declaration under the Act regarding a foreign arrangement involving a portfolio entity the Minister is responsible for, the Minister must immediately inform the Premier in writing, and advise on consequences of, and appropriate mitigation strategies in response to, the declaration.

    9.9.5  Usual Queensland Government processes apply to foreign arrangements

    Existing Cabinet and CBRC processes should be followed for foreign arrangements with significant or sensitive policy issues or budgetary and fiscal implications.

    Existing approvals and signatories for certain foreign arrangements will continue, for example:

    • The Premier will sign sister-state arrangements or state-wide memoranda of understanding where appropriate.
    • The Minister for Trade will sign trade and investment related arrangements, where appropriate.
    • The Premier may delegate the signing of any foreign arrangement to another Minister, or their appropriate delegate.

    9.9.6 Queensland’s Central Foreign Arrangements Registry

    DPC will maintain a registry of all foreign arrangements entered by the Queensland Government under the Act. 

    Immediately following declaration of any foreign arrangement to the Federal Government, agencies must provide DPC with a copy of the arrangement and the information declared about it for inclusion on the central registry. This can be sent by email to:

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    Last updated:
    25 May, 2021
    Last reviewed:
    25 May, 2021