June deadline for LGs to notify Cth of sister city arrangements

Local governments have until 10 June 2021 to notify the Department of Foreign Affairs of pre-existing “non-core” foreign arrangements.

These are arrangements they entered into with foreign entities before 10 March 2021 – and include sister city arrangements.

Additionally, local governments must – from 10 March 2021 onwards – notify the Foreign Affairs Minister before entering into new arrangements with foreign entities (known under the Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Act 2020 as “prospective foreign arrangements”, and again within 14 days after entering into a prospective foreign arrangement.

The Foreign Arrangements Scheme took effect on 10 December 2020, following Royal Assent of the Foreign Relation Act, and is intended to foster a systematic and consistent approach to foreign engagement across all levels of government.

It is also intended to ensure that arrangements between state or territory governments and foreign government entities do not adversely affect Australia’s foreign relations and are not inconsistent with foreign policy.

Local governments are non-core entities for the purposes of the scheme.

The Foreign Arrangements Website is the central point for information about the scheme and contains a range of resources, including Factsheets, FAQs, and the Act.

Of particular relevance to local governments is Factsheet 1 – Overview and Factsheet 3 – Local Government. The front page of the website also contains a link to the Foreign Arrangements Online Portal, which has been set up to enable notifications of arrangements to the Foreign Minister.

The Foreign Arrangements Taskforce at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade can be contacted via the following email: foreignarrangements@dfat.gov.au.