Reform of Austrade – delivering greater value
In 2010, Austrade's Chief Executive Officer instigated a comprehensive review of the organisation. The key focus was to establish the rationale for Austrade in 2010 and beyond, and identify where Austrade delivers greatest value to Australian businesses.
In May 2011, upon completion of the review, the Hon Dr Craig Emerson MP, Minister for Trade and Competitiveness, announced a series of reforms to Austrade. The reforms were designed to create a more contemporary and sustainable Austrade—an agency that can deliver greater value for business and government.
Dr Emerson indicated that more of Austrade's work would be undertaken in the world's frontier and emerging markets, where Australian businesses would benefit most from government assistance. Australian businesses would also benefit from Austrade's resources being better targeted around sound economic and commercial principles and deployed where Austrade adds the greatest value. Austrade's services to Australian businesses would be concentrated on those firms ready to tackle the challenges of the international marketplace.
The reforms have been progressively implemented during 2011–12. This has involved extending Austrade's operations in emerging markets, such as Mongolia and Colombia, and rationalising resources in established markets, such as Europe and North America. Austrade's resources in established markets are now heavily focused on attracting foreign direct investment and the promotion of international education and training services. Austrade will continue its important role in promoting Australia's international education and training capabilities in all major markets.
Austrade has established an online self-assessment tool, the International Readiness Indicator, for Australian firms to assess their international capabilities. The Export Market Development Grants scheme and TradeStart also continue to support Australian exporters.
The review recommended that Austrade sharpen its investment focus. Austrade has been working closely with other Australian Government agencies and state and territory governments to identify areas of focus for proactive investment attraction activity.
Austrade's organisational structure has been simplified, with a shift to a global rather than regional management structure, headquartered in Sydney. Capability within Austrade is also being strengthened, including through the introduction of a Trade Commissioner Development Program.
Austrade's reforms have focused strongly on ensuring that the organisation operates with the highest ethical standards. In August 2011, Austrade commissioned the Australia and New Zealand School of Government's Institute for Governance at the University of Canberra to provide an independent review of its overall governance framework. The institute's report, available on the Austrade website, www.austrade.gov.au, concluded that Austrade's corporate governance structures were of a high quality, particularly in the area of anti-corruption training, which represented international best practice.
In 2012–13, Austrade will complete the implementation of the reform process. This will include further geographic representation changes and strengthened engagement with other public and private sector organisations, including industry associations, in delivering advice and international opportunities to Australian businesses.