Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Diplomatic Appointment - Ambassador to Italy

Media release

10 May 2010

Today I announce the appointment of Mr David Ritchie AO as Australia's Ambassador to Italy with concurrent accreditation to San Marino. Mr Ritchie replaces Ms Amanda Vanstone who has been Ambassador since July 2007. He is expected to take up his appointment in July 2010.

Australia and Italy share longstanding and warm relations. These are underpinned by personal, cultural and business linkages drawn from the 200,000-strong Italian-Australian community.

The joint community and government response to L'Aquila's reconstruction after the 2009 earthquake has highlighted these close links. A number of high-level government and parliamentary visits in both directions are consolidating people-to-people connections. Education, sporting and cultural links are strong.

As Australia's fifth-largest export market in the European Union, and third-largest source of EU imports, Italy continues to be a significant trade partner. We both share similar views on global issues such as human rights, climate change, disarmament and arms control and international security, including the stabilisation of Afghanistan.

As a member of the G20 and a strong contributor to the United Nations, Italy is a valuable partner for Australia.

Australia and San Marino enjoy a productive relationship, reinforced by the recent signature of a Tax Information Exchange Agreement that will advance trade and economic relations. We cooperate closely in multilateral fora, including those dealing with international transportation and world heritage issues.

Mr Ritchie is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and was most recently Deputy Secretary, a position he first took up in 2001. He has served as Senior Adviser (International Relations) to the then Prime Minister and has held various positions in the International Division of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

He has previously served overseas as Ambassador to Indonesia and also had earlier postings to Lusaka, Nairobi, Berlin and Bonn. He received his Order of Australia for his contribution to the fight against terrorism in South-East Asia, following the attack on the Australian Embassy in Jakarta in September 2004.

Mr Ritchie holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from the University of Queensland. He speaks Italian. Mr Ritchie is married with two children.

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