28 June 1995

DIPLOMATIC APPOINTMENT: High Commissioner to South Africa

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Gareth Evans, today announced the appointment of Mr Ian Porter as Australian High Commissioner to the Republic of South Africa. Mr Porter will replace Mr Ross Burns, who has been High Commissioner since September 1992.

Australia has a long-standing bilateral relationship with South Africa, where it has been represented diplomatically in Pretoria since 1946 and in Cape Town since 1967. The relationship has assumed considerable additional breadth and depth since the historic inauguration of the Government of National Unity (GNU) in May 1994. The number of recent high level visits between Australia and South Africa - including those by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Evans, and the Minister for Trade, Senator McMullan - reflect the closer official ties both countries now enjoy. In addition, both Executive Deputy Presidents of South Africa, Mr Thabo Mbeki and Mr FW de Klerk, have visited Australia as Guests of the Government.

Australia has given strong support to the GNU in its efforts to redress long standing social injustices by means of the Reconstruction and Development Program. A $30 million, three-year development assistance program launched in 1994 is aimed at assisting the GNU to deliver basic needs to people previously disadvantaged by apartheid, assist human resource development and contribute to the democratisation of the state and society. The Government is also seeking to expand Australia's economic relationship with South Africa. To that end, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has listed South Africa as a priority market for its 1995 National Trade and Investment Outlook Conference.

Mr Porter is a senior career officer of the DFAT. He was educated at Werribee High School and the University of Melbourne, joined the then Department of Foreign Affairs in 1973 and subsequently served in Tehran and Hong Kong. In 1986 Mr Porter was Private Secretary to the Minister for Resources and Energy and from 1986 to 1987 Senior Private Secretary to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. From 1987 to 1991 Mr Porter was Counsellor in Manila, and from 1991 to 1992 he was Assistant Secretary of the Personnel Branch in Canberra. His most recent position was as Minister and Deputy Head of Mission in Jakarta.

Mr Porter is expected to take up his appointment in September 1995.