About the Council

Our History

In 1981, a program for political exchanges was established by the then Prime Minister, the late Rt Hon Malcolm Fraser AC CH, with the support of the leaders of the major Parliamentary political parties, to arrange visits of young political leaders between Australia and other countries. An Interim Committee was created with the leaders of the major federal Parliamentary parties as its Principals.

With the agreement of the Principals, the Interim Committee became the Australian Political Exchange Committee in August 1983 and subsequently the Australian Political Exchange Council in September 1991.

The first exchange took place in June 1982 when a delegation from Australia, led by Mr James Porter MP (then Member for Barker) travelled to the United States of America. This was reciprocated in November 1982 when a delegation from the United States of America, led jointly by Mr T Ryan Jr (Republican) and Mr R Spencer (Democrat), travelled to Australia.

Our Purpose

Today, the Council’s purpose is to develop emerging Australian political leaders by providing opportunities to gain insights into the political systems and cultures of countries with which the Council has an established exchange program. These countries include the People's Republic of China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the Philippines, the United States of America and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The Council also offers emerging political leaders from counterpart countries the opportunity to gain knowledge of Australia, its political and electoral systems, history and culture, and build enduring networks between young political leaders.

The Council also supports individuals to undertake study tours usually to New Zealand, the United Kingdom, or the United States of America. These tours generally coincide with the host country’s election year whereby delegates can observe political campaigns and learn about the host country’s domestic political issues and electoral systems. 

The Council’s exchange programs and Secretariat are funded through an annual appropriation to the Commonwealth Department of Finance.

The Terms of Reference governing the Council's operations seek to:

  1. arrange regular exchange visits for either individuals or groups of young people, drawn from the Parties of the Principals, with the potential to make a significant contribution to political life, between Australia and other countries;
  2. provide learning experiences through study tours of Australia for young political leaders from countries important to Australia for trade or strategic reasons;
  3. arrange related activities which provide developmental opportunities for the rising generation of Australian and other political leaders; and
  4. arrange for regular reporting on the Council’s activities to Parliament, the Principals and sponsors.

Further information is available on the Governance page