M55

25 May 1995

DIPLOMATIC APPOINTMENT: Consul-General in Hong Kong

The Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Gordon Bilney, today announced the appointment of Mr Geoff Walsh as Australian Consul-General in Hong Kong.

Mr Walsh replaces Dr Jocelyn Chey, who has been Consul-General since 1992.

Hong Kong is a major regional and international financial, trade, services and media centre located next to the most dynamic part of China and between the growing economies of North and Southeast Asia.

Australia has substantial and broad interests in Hong Kong - it is Australia's fourth largest source of investment, our sixth market for services, our eighth market for goods, and the tenth for merchandise trade.

Last year more than 11,000 full fee-paying students from Hong Kong were enrolled at Australian educational institutions. Tourism from Hong Kong to Australia is strong and growing and around one quarter of all successful applicants under the Business Migration Program come from the territory.

Australia's links with Hong Kong are long-standing, strong and diverse. More than 30,000 Australians live in Hong Kong and in excess of 300 Australian companies operate from there.

Mr Walsh will take up his appointment at an important stage in the relationship as Hong Kong prepares for return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

Mr Walsh is a senior officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He was First Assistant Secretary of the Public Affairs Division from 1991 to 1994. He was Principal Adviser in the Prime Minister's Office from 1994 to 1995 and Special Adviser to the Prime Minister from 1988 to 1991. From 1987 to 1988 he was an international civil servant with the International Labour Organisation in Geneva.

He is expected to take up his appointment in August 1995.

CANBERRA