Today we announce the inclusion of the Residence of the Australian Ambassador in Washington D.C. in the Commonwealth Heritage List.
The Ambassador's Residence has significant heritage value because it housed the first Australian diplomatic mission to a foreign country outside of the Commonwealth. It is also symbolic of the beginning of an autonomous Australian foreign policy and the growing importance of the Australia-US relationship as a keystone of that policy.
Appointed by the Menzies Government, R.G. Casey was the first Ambassador to move into the house known as 'White Oaks' to establish a diplomatic presence for Australia in 1940 and initiate the Australia-US contemporary relationship. The American colonial style house was the primary base of Australian diplomacy in Washington until the first Embassy building was purchased in 1946.
Before the appointment of R.G. Casey in 1940, Australia conducted much of its diplomatic representations through the British Government, and the High Commissioner in London was the sole senior representative of Australia's interests overseas. Australia now has 100 diplomatic missions representing its interests around the world.
Our Ambassador to the United States Joe Hockey currently lives at the Residence and previous occupants include Kim Beazley, Dennis Richardson, Michael Thawley and Andrew Peacock.
The Residence also hosts dialogues, discussions and events to further Australia's diplomatic efforts. On 12 September 2001, Prime Minister John Howard used a press conference on the Residence lawns to invoke the ANZUS Treaty following the 9/11 attacks.
In 2006 President George W. Bush and Mr Howard planted two trees in the grounds to symbolise the continued Australia-US friendship, and in 2015 a reception was hosted at the Residence marking the 75th anniversary of Australia-US diplomatic relations.
The Commonwealth Heritage List is a list of natural, Indigenous and historic heritage places owned or controlled by the Australian Government.
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