MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
7 August 1999
Changes in Australia's Overseas Representation
The Government has decided to make some adjustments to its network of overseas posts to reflect better key Australian interests abroad. The changes will involve establishing a new embassy in Denmark, the expansion of the post in Portugal to a full embassy, an enhanced presence in Los Angeles and the closure of our missions in Syria and Kazakhstan with a move to non-resident accreditation in those countries.
I believe the new arrangements will better enable the Government to continue to advance Australia's national interests abroad and to respond quickly to shifts in trade patterns.
Since 1997 Australia has faced huge political and economic challenges in the region and further afield. The Government has responded with active diplomacy and by encouraging our exporters to explore new markets, especially in Europe and North America.
At the same time Australia has remained a close business and regional partner of countries in the Asia Pacific region.
The new or enlarged posts are in regions or countries where Australia's interests can be pursued more effectively through strengthening our diplomatic and consular representation.
Re-opening our embassy in Copenhagen will boost both our bilateral interests and our ability to represent Australia's concerns within the EU and Scandinavia. Australian trade interests in Denmark are growing and Denmark is an active and influential participant in the EU.
The expansion of our liaison office in Lisbon into an embassy will help Australia to remain closely engaged with Portugal, particularly on developments in East Timor. The establishment of a full mission will also enable closer dialogue with Portugal on EU issues and provide better opportunities to increase bilateral trade and investment.
An enhanced Australian presence in Los Angeles will lift Australia's capacity to engage California - the biggest and most Asia-Pacific oriented state in the United States. A large proportion of American trade and investment comes from California. It is a major market for Australian firms, especially SMEs in IT and high technology. California is also very influential politically, with the nation's largest congressional representation and is the headquarters of major business enterprises.
I also announce the appointment of Mr Allan Rocher as Australia's next Consul-General in Los Angeles. He will take up his appointment in November 1999 at which time the current Consul-General, Mr Michael Johnson, will revert to his full duties as Austrade's Executive General Manager covering the North, Central and South American markets.
Mr Rocher represented the seat of Curtin in the House of Representatives from 1981 to 1998 and was a Senator for Western Australia from 1978 to 1981. As a Member of Parliament, Mr Rocher served in various capacities, including as Second Deputy Speaker (1994-96), Shadow Minister for Defence Science and Personnel (1992-93), Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition (1990-93), Deputy Chairman of Committees (1983-90) and Deputy Government Whip in the Senate (1980-81). Before entering parliament, Mr Rocher held management positions in the building industry.
The Government is confident that
Australia's interests in Syria and Kazakhstan can be pursued
effectively with non-resident accreditation, and looks forward
to continuation of close and cooperative bilateral relations
with these important countries.
Minister - Matt Francis (02)
Department - Mark Croxford (02) 6261 1555
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