Morrison’s Cuts to DFAT Fail to Deliver Australia’s Interests

15 July 2020

Scott Morrison’s decision to cut a further 60 staff from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade raises serious questions about his Government’s ability to deliver for Australia’s national interests in an increasingly complex world.

Today’s cuts come on top of this government:

  • Cutting DFAT by over $600 million
  • Overseeing a 9% cut in DFAT staffing levels
  • Cutting development assistance by $11.8 billion – creating strategic openings for other countries to fill.

In the lead up to the Eden Monaro by-election, Scott Morrison warned that Australia had “not seen the conflation of global, economic and strategic uncertainty now being experienced here in Australia in our region since the existential threat we faced when the global and regional order collapsed in the 1930s and 1940s.”

While Scott Morrison talks a big game, he’s once again fallen short where it counts.

Labor welcomed Scott Morrison’s recent announcement on enhanced defence capability – that’s critical.

But it won’t be enough to deliver Australia’s security and economic recovery.

If we are truly going to keep Australians secure and promote our national interest, we need to be more self-reliant and ambitious in our foreign policy.

Australia’s diplomats are critical to this.

These cuts are also an indictment of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who has been utterly incapable of defending her Department during the biggest global crisis since World War II.

Her weakness in Cabinet was the subject of an unsubtle attack by a Morrison Government backbencher in an opinion piece two days ago.

Scott Morrison has consistently shown questionable judgement on foreign affairs, including by maligning international bodies with his infamous “negative globalism” speech, and by announcing a shift on Middle East policy as part of the Wentworth by-election.


Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.