Prime Minister Tony Abbott is spot on
The Australian newspaper with more on the depth of concern about the ABC's contractual performance

The Department of Foreign Affairs tells me it is "closely monitoring" the ABC's delivery of the Australia Network

On 26 November 2013 I wrote to the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs about the ABC's apparent failure to deliver what it's paid for under the DFAT-ABC Australia Network funding agreement.

Today I would like to pay tribute to the professionalism and diplomatic skill of the Department's Permanent Head Peter Varghese AO.   Mr Varghese asked the First Assistant Secretary Justin Brown to reply to me and Mr Brown's letter is amongst the best letters from an Australian Government departmental head I have read.



Dear Mr Smith


Thank you for your email of 26 November 2013 addressed to the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  Mr Varghese has asked me to respond on his behalf.


As you have noted, the DFAT-ABC funding agreement commits the ABC to meet several key government objectives in delivering the Australia Network, including to foster the improved understanding of Australia’s global role and to increase awareness of the links between Australia and the Asian region.  


Under the terms of the agreement, however, the Department has no authority to direct the ABC in relation to program selection; editorial matters remain the ABC’s responsibility in accordance with the ABC Charter and the Codes of Practice. 


Over the past year, the Department has worked with the ABC to ensure the objectives of the agreement are advanced.  The Department is continuing to closely monitor the ABC’s performance in that respect and there is ongoing contact between the two organisations to identify what is needed to ensure the integrated Australia Network-Radio Australia service becomes a more effective vehicle for advancing Australia’s broad and enduring interests in the Asian region.     


Yours sincerely    




Coat of arms colour

Justin Brown

First Assistant Secretary

Consular, Public Diplomacy and Parliamentary Affairs Division



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