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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to slash dozens of jobs – Sydney Morning Herald

DFAT will slash 60 jobs across Canberra and overseas postings as concern grows about Australia’s flailing diplomatic footprint in the Indo-Pacific region.



According to multiple sources, DFAT will cut 50 jobs out of Canberra and 10 from eight overseas postings.
All the positions are executive level one or two positions, meaning they are in the lower tier of leadership and management.
DFAT plans to use natural attrition and redeployment to make the cuts and to complete the process with no redundancies.
DFAT has a total workforce of just over 6000, according to its 2018-19 annual report. As of June 30 last year, 2942 employees worked in Australia and 860 served at overseas posts. This does not include the 2276 locally engaged staff at overseas posts.
Mr Sharma this week said DFAT had “failed to sell its value to the political class, to cultivate champions within the cabinet or position itself with solutions to the government’s challenges”.
The former ambassador to Israel said Defence, Home Affairs and the intelligence agencies had been better at presenting solutions to the challenges of government and their budgets had grown accordingly.
“Other than its own portfolio ministers, DFAT does not have many champions around the cabinet table and this is because, aside from a few high-profile ambassadors, it fails to do the retail politicking necessary to sell its worth in Canberra,” Mr Sharma said.
Australia now spends just 1.3 per cent of the federal budget on diplomacy and foreign aid, well below comparable countries. It outlays about $28 billion a year on defence compared with $1 billion on diplomacy.
Beth Vincent-Pietsch, deputy national secretary of public sector union the CPSU, said the move to cut positions was “just not not in our economic or national interest”.
“This pandemic has shone a light on how important the work of DFAT is. Our members have been working hard to bring Australians home from across the globe and ensure their safety, as well as continue our important trade an diplomatic work,” she said.
These job cuts will have a significant impact of the Departments role and ability to push our national interests.
“If the Morrison Government think they can run an arm of Australias soft power like a business they are terribly mistaken. DFAT has not met its Average Staffing Levels, we are calling on the government to reconsider this decision.
More to come
Anthony is foreign affairs and national security correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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