The Scheme creates an approval process for ‘core’ foreign arrangements and a notification process for ‘non-core’ foreign arrangements.

A core foreign arrangement is an arrangement between a core State/Territory entity and a core foreign entity.

A non-core foreign arrangement is an arrangement between:

  • a core State/Territory entity and a non-core foreign entity,
  • a non-core State/Territory entity and a core foreign entity, or 
  • a non-core State/Territory entity and a non-core foreign entity.

For more information on which entities are core State/Territory entities, which entities are non-core State/Territory entities, which entities are core foreign entities and which entities are non-core foreign entities please see "Who is covered by the Scheme".

Approval of prospective core foreign arrangements

The Minister for Foreign Affairs (the Minister) must be notified of a proposal to negotiate or enter a core foreign arrangement. If the arrangement is entered into, the Minister must also be notified about that within 14 days.

The Minister must consider the proposed negotiation or entry of the arrangement, and make a decision whether to approve. The Minister must approve if satisfied that the proposed negotiation or arrangement:

  • would not adversely affect, or would be unlikely to adversely affect, Australia’s foreign relations; and
  • would not be, or would be unlikely to be, inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy.

The Minister must make a decision within 30 days or the Minister is taken to have given approval.

If a core State/Territory entity enters an arrangement without approval, then the arrangement will be invalid and unenforceable, be required to be terminated, or not be in operation (depending on the arrangement).

Notification of prospective non-core foreign arrangements

Commencing 10 March 2021, the Minister must also be notified of a proposal to enter a non-core foreign arrangement. If the arrangement is entered into, the Minister must also be notified about that within 14 days.

The Minister may make a declaration prohibiting a State/Territory entity from negotiating or entering a non-core arrangement if satisfied that the negotiation or arrangement:

  • would adversely affect, or would be likely to adversely affect, Australia’s foreign relations; or
  • would be, or would be likely to be, inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy.

If a non-core arrangement is entered into in contravention of a declaration, the Minister may make a further declaration that the arrangement is invalid and unenforceable, required to be terminated, or not in operation.

Foreign arrangements already in operation

Under the Scheme, state or territory entities have an obligation to notify the Minister of existing arrangements that are already in operation.

  • The deadline for notifying pre-existing core foreign arrangements was 10 March 2021.
  • The deadline for notifying pre-existing non-core foreign arrangements was 10 June 2021.
  • The deadline of notifying of schools arrangements, including core school foreign arrangements, was 10 June 2021.

The Minister may make a declaration that such an arrangement is invalid and unenforceable, required to be varied or terminated, or not in operation if satisfied the arrangement would adversely affect Australia’s foreign relations or is inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy.