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Casey House, the headquarters of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
In the Government of Australia, the Minister for Foreign Affairs is responsible for overseeing the international diplomacy section of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trademarker. In common with international practice, the office is often informally referred to as Foreign Minister. Prior to 1970, the office was known as the Minister for External Affairs. The portfolio has existed continuously since 1901, except for the period 14 November 1916 to 17 February 1917.

The minister is usually one of the most senior members of Cabinet — the position is equivalent to that of Secretary of State in the United Statesmarker or Foreign Secretary in the United Kingdommarker — as shown by the fact that eleven Prime Ministers of Australia have also worked as the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The minister is seen as one of the people most responsible for formulating Australia's foreign policy, as they along with other relevant ministers advise the Prime Minister in developing and implementing foreign policy, and also acts as the government's main spokesperson on international affairs issues. In recent times, the minister also undertakes numerous international trips to meet with foreign representatives and Heads of State or Government.

Stephen Smith is the current Minister for Foreign Affairs, replacing Alexander Downer, who was the longest-serving Minister for Foreign Affairs in Australian history.

List of Australian Foreign Ministers

Politician Party Time frame
Edmund Barton
(Sir Edmund from 1902)
Protectionist Party 1901-1903
Alfred Deakin Protectionist Party 1903-1904
Billy Hughes Australian Labor Party 1904
George Reid Free Trade Party 1904-1905
Alfred Deakin Commonwealth Liberal Party 1905-1908
Lee Batchelor Australian Labor Party 1908-1909
Littleton Groom Protectionist Party 1909-1910
Lee Batchelor Australian Labor Party 1910-1911
Josiah Thomas Australian Labor Party 1911-1913
Patrick Glynn Commonwealth Liberal Party 1913-1914
John Arthur Australian Labor Party 1914
Hugh Mahon Australian Labor Party 1914-1916
Billy Hughes Nationalist Party of Australia 1917-1923
Stanley Bruce Nationalist Party of Australia 1923-1929
James Scullin Australian Labor Party 1929-1932
John Latham United Australia Party 1932-1934
Sir George Pearce United Australia Party 1934-1937
Billy Hughes United Australia Party 1937-1939
Sir Henry Somer Gullett United Australia Party 1939-1940
John McEwen Country Party 1940
Frederick Stewart United Australia Party 1940-1941
Dr. Herbert Vere Evatt Australian Labor Party 1941-1949
Percy Spender Liberal Party of Australia 1949-1951
Richard Casey Liberal Party of Australia 1951-1960
Robert Menzies Liberal Party of Australia 1960-1961
Sir Garfield Barwick Liberal Party of Australia 1961-1964
Paul Hasluck Liberal Party of Australia 1964-1969
Gordon Freeth Liberal Party of Australia 1969
William McMahon Liberal Party of Australia 1969-1971
Leslie Bury Liberal Party of Australia 1971
Nigel Bowen Liberal Party of Australia 1971-1972
Gough Whitlam Australian Labor Party 1972-1973
Don Willesee Australian Labor Party 1973-1975
Andrew Peacock Liberal Party of Australia 1975-1980
Tony Street Liberal Party of Australia 1980-1983
Bill Hayden Australian Labor Party 1983-1988
Gareth Evans Australian Labor Party 1988-1996
Alexander Downer Liberal Party of Australia 1996-2007
Stephen Smith Australian Labor Party 2007-

Notes and references

  1. Also served as Prime Minister for some or all of their term.

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